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Freed Indian nun slapped with abduction charges

Archbishop Leo Cornelio of Bhopal describes it as a 'totally a false case'

Freed Indian nun slapped with abduction charges

Members of the Carmelite Sisters of St. Teresa congregation professing their religious vows at a convent. One of their nuns based in Bhopal was accused of abduction and faces criminal charges and arrest. (Photo courtesy of Carmelite Sisters of St. Teresa)

 

Saji Thomas, Bhopal
India

June 16, 2017

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A Catholic nun accused of taking tribal girls for religious conversion in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh now faces a criminal charge of abduction.

The railway police in Satna town have charged Sister Beena Joseph, a member of the Carmelite Sisters of St. Teresa congregation, with abduction a day after she was released from a 12-hour detention June 15.

The nun was on her way to the Madhya Pradesh state capital of Bhopal from the eastern state of Jharkhand along with four tribal girls. She was accused of taking them for conversion, following allegations by a Hindu activist that she had abducted 25 girls for conversion.

Sister Joseph denied the allegations. "Neither the girls are minors, nor did I attempt to convert them. They are brought here for studies," the nun based in  Bhopal told ucanews.com.

S.R Bagri, the inspector in charge of the case,  told ucanews.com that the charge of abduction was "filed against the nun following a statement from the father of a minor girl," who the police sent to the government's childcare center.

The police officer said the child's father confirmed the girl was a minor and the nun said she was taking her to the southern Indian city of Chennai. She allegedly offered the family 5,000 rupees (US$75). Bagri said the nun will not be arrested immediately, but after thorough investigation.

Archbishop Leo Cornelio of Bhopal told ucanews.com that it was "totally a false case."

"The girl was traveling with the nun and three other girls. How could she alone be abducted while the others were not?" he questioned.

Church leaders said the case is an attempt to harass the Catholic community in a state that is ruled by the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party, the political arm of Hindu groups that want to create a Hindu-only country.

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