The Pontificate - Contribute to help UCA News
The Pontificate - Contribute to help UCA News
UCA News

India

Catholic nuns deny conversion claims in India

Teacher dismissed from Jharkhand school run by Apostolic Carmel sisters is motivated by revenge, says superior

ucanews.com reporter, Bhopal

ucanews.com reporter, Bhopal

Updated: December 13, 2018 08:01 AM GMT
Featured Authors - Columnists | Make a Contribution
Featured Authors - Columnists | Make a Contribution
Catholic nuns deny conversion claims in India

Hindu devotees perform a ritual bath during the Durga Puja festival in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand on Oct. 16. Christians in Jharkhand have faced increased harassment from Hindu groups since 2014, church leaders say. (Photo by AFP)

Share this article :
A court in India's Jharkhand state has ordered police to book four Catholic nuns on charges of attempting to convert a woman to Christianity, but the nuns' superior says the case is an act of revenge.

The district court in state capital Ranchi directed police to file charges against the principal and three other nuns associated with the city's Carmel School after teacher Nalini Nayak complained that she was dismissed for her refusal to become a Christian.

Officials of the Apostolic Carmel congregation, which runs the school, said Nayak's complaint came after she was terminated because of her misconduct despite repeated warnings.

The complaint to the court was "an act of revenge," Sister Doris D'Souza, regional superior of the congregation, told ucanews.com on Dec. 4. "It is a completely false case to harass us and tarnish the image of the 50-year-old school."

The nun said Nayak was dismissed following "a series of complaints from students and parents for misconduct such as corporal punishment and leveling derogatory remarks against students among other things."

In the last incident, Nayak allegedly slapped a 5-year-old tribal child and made derogatory remarks about her skin color. The child's parents lodged a complaint against her on July 26 and sought action.

Nayak was dismissed after an internal inquiry committee found that she had violated the norms of the school and state educational guidelines. 

School authorities received more than 20 complaints about the teacher from her students and their parents. Sister D'Souza said CCTV footage of several violations is available.

Nayak claimed she was terminated on Oct. 1 after five years of service for refusing to become a Christian.

Her counsel Avnish Rajan Mishra said police would also charge the nuns with "criminal conspiracy" and "intention of molestation."

Nayak's complaint said school principal Sister Delia and other three other nuns — Sisters M. Renisha, Teresita Mary and Mary Theresa — exerted pressure on her to attend church services and religious functions on the school campus.

"On Sept. 27, the principal called me to her chamber and threatened that I could be killed if I refused to convert to Christianity. On Oct. 1, I was terminated from service," the complainant said.

Sister D'Souza said that over the past 50 years "thousands of children have studied in our school but nobody ever made such a heinous allegation against us."

She said two of the nuns named in the complaint are aged over 80 and are not involved in school activities.

"We are not here to convert anyone, just to provide quality education," she said.

Christians in Jharkhand have faced increased violence and harassment from Hindu groups opposed to Christianity since the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party came to power in the state in 2014, church leaders say.

In 2017, the state enacted a law that made using allurement, force or fraud to convert a person a criminal offense. Christian leaders say their services in education and healthcare could easily be misconstrued as violations and punished with fines or jail terms of up to four years.

Such laws exist in seven Indian states but no Christian has yet been convicted for conversion.

Support UCA News...

UCA News provides a unique service, bringing you the voices of emerging churches and helping you see efforts made to evangelize and bring relief to people in all manner of need.

UCA News has more than 40 full time and part time reporters, editors and administrators bringing you this service from across 23 countries in south, southeast and east Asia. You, too, can be part of their efforts by contributing even a small amount to keep UCA News available to the world.
Click here to consider the options available to you.

Your contribution to UCA News will immensely help us continue to grow a strong media community by harnessing information technology to inform, engage, inspire and influence the Catholics of Asia and the world.

As a gesture of our gratitude to your commitment to UCA News, we are pleased to gift you a free PDF Book/e-Book titled Mission in Asia when you make a contribution.

UCA News Donate
UCA Newsletter
YOUR DAILY
NEWSLETTER
Thank you. You are now signed up to our Daily Full Bulletin newsletter

Also Read

UCA News Podcast
UCAN Ad
 
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
Mission in Asia | Make a Contribution
Mission in Asia | Make a Contribution
Mission in Asia | Make a Contribution