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Indian nun sets fire to fellow novice

Suspect and victim caught up in love triangle, police say reporter, Thiruvananthapuram

June 2, 2014

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A novice nun in the southern Indian state of Kerala has been arrested for allegedly setting a fellow novice on fire in what police say was a lesbian love triangle gone wrong.

Delsy Varghese, a final year novice with the Daughters of St Ann congregation, suffered 45 percent burns and was seriously ill in hospital.

The attack occurred early on Sunday at St Ann’s convent in North Paravoor.

Fellow novice Rachel Jossy, 21, was later arrested and offered a full confession during questioning, police said.

“She has been charged with attempted murder,” said Inspector T B Vijayan from the North Paravoor police station.

Jossy confessed to pouring kerosene over Varghese while she slept and then set her alight, Vijayan said.  

Later, she joined other nuns in rushing the victim to hospital, he said.

The victim told police that someone had tried to kill her and police said a subsequent investigation revealed that the two novices were involved in a long-standing feud.

“We suspect that jealousy prompted her to set Varghese ablaze,” Vijayan said.  

He said Jossy admitted that she and the victim were in a close relationship that had turned sour.

Jossy later became friendly with another nun with whom Varghese also became close, he said.

Things came to a head when convent authorities decided to send Varghese and the third nun to Andra Pradesh for an advanced course and Jossy to Thiruvananthapuram.  

“She [Jossy] wanted to stop Varghese and her partner leaving together,” Vijayan said.

Convent Mother Superior, Sister Jasmine, dismissed the police’s account and instead accused the media of trying to spice up a tragic incident by concocting a lesbian love story.

“You are putting forward stories without basis. I don’t want to talk on this issue,” she said.

Syro-Malabar Church spokesman, Father Paul Thelakat, tried to downplay events.

“The unfortunate incident looks to be an act arising from some animosity between two immature novices,” he said.

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