In a shocking incident, two nuns and their two novices were harassed, heckled and forced to deboard a train in Uttar Pradesh's Jhansi by members of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), on suspicion of religious conversion.
The incident, which occurred on Friday, March 19, has triggered massive outrage, with Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan writing to Home Minister Amit Shah demanding strict action.
"Such incidents tarnish the image of the nation and its ancient tradition of religious tolerance. Such incidents require utmost condemnation by the Union government. I would request your kind intervention to instruct authorities to take strict action on all groups, individuals who disrupt, impair the freedom of individual rights guaranteed by the constitution," the Chief Minister wrote.
Reacting to the incident, the Union Home Minister, on Wednesday, March 24 said: "Those involved in the Jhansi nuns' harassment incident will be brought before the law."
The nuns were onboard the Haridwar-Puri Utkal Express on March 19, reported NDTV.
A 25-second video shows the women surrounded by some men, some of whom appear to be cops. "Go get your luggage. You will be sent home if what you are saying is correct," a man is heard saying in the video.
In a detailed and elaborate statement, Naeem Khan Mansuri, the Superintendent of Railway Police said, "There were some members of the ABVP who were returning from a training camp in Rishikesh on board the Utkal Express to Jhansi. Four Christian ladies were travelling on the same train from Hazrat Nizamuddin in Delhi to Rourkela in Odisha. Two of them were nuns and two were under training."
"These members of the ABVP suspected that these two nuns were taking the other two women for conversion because the nuns were speaking to the other ladies. On this suspicion, they informed the Railway Protection Force who in turn informed the railway police. These ABVP members also gave a written complaint about conversion. I reached the spot and made inquiries," the statement read.
These inquiries revealed that the two other women were from Odisha's Rourkela and were under training. We checked their certificates and both had 2003 baptism certificates and this proved both women by birth were Christian and that no conversion was involved. After this we sent all four women onwards to their destination in Odisha," it added.