Going against Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s promises, Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said that the claims Kerala nuns attacked in a train at Jhansi, Uttar Pradesh, were baseless allegations. He added that the claims of the perpetrator being ABVP members were incorrect. However, there are video recordings of the incident, which shows the nuns being heckled and harassed by Hindutva activists, who accused the nuns of forcefully converting girls.
On the other hand, Amit Shah has promised to take action against those involved in the harassment of two Kerala nuns in Uttar Pradesh. The Home Minister’s reply came after Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan wrote to him demanding strict action against the accused. He said that the accused would face action. “Those involved in the nuns’ harassment incident in Jhansi will be brought before the law,” Shah said.
Two nuns were forced to change out of their religious habits into civilian clothes midway through a rail journey on March 19 to protect themselves and two postulants with them from possible attacks by right-wing Hindutva activists. The group were travelling from Delhi to Rourkela in Odisha. The nuns were in their habit, while the girls were in civilian dress. The postulants, who had joined the Sacred Hearts Congregation of the Delhi Province recently, were going home for Easter holidays and the nuns were accompanying them for safety.
In a video of the incident, the Hindutva radicals’ prime allegation was that the nuns were taking the postulants for religious conversion. The youths then began causing a commotion. They accused the nuns of violating the state’s anti-conversion law as the train reached Jhansi station. Following an investigation into the incident, Jhansi Railways Superintendent informed that ABVP — a student’s body closely associated with RSS and BJP — activists were behind the incident. The ABVP members were returning from a study camp in Rishikesh.
According to a press release from the Kerala-based Syro-Malabar Church Media Commission, the group had reached Jhansi, Uttar Pradesh, at around 7:30 pm when a few Bajrang Dal activists, who were returning from a pilgrimage, abused, harassed them and caused trouble said the press release issued by Father Jerry Joseph (Alex) Onampally, the commission secretary.