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Indian Church demands action against people who humiliated nun

The nun was mocked for her religious habit and faith by co-passengers before being forced out of a bus
Members of a hardline Hindu group seen during a protest against Christian missionaries in Allahabad city on Oct. 22, 2013. A Catholic nun in India’s northeastern Meghalaya state was mocked for her religious habit and forced to get off the bus on her way to neighboring Assam state despite having a valid ticket on Feb. 17.

Members of a hardline Hindu group seen during a protest against Christian missionaries in Allahabad city on Oct. 22, 2013. A Catholic nun in India’s northeastern Meghalaya state was mocked for her religious habit and forced to get off the bus on her way to neighboring Assam state despite having a valid ticket on Feb. 17. (Photo: AFP/ UCAN files)

Published: February 23, 2024 07:03 AM GMT
Updated: February 23, 2024 08:08 AM GMT

A Catholic diocese in India’s northeastern Meghalaya state has registered a protest with the state government against the humiliation and removal of a nun from a bus due to her religious habit and faith.

Tura Diocese in the tiny hilly state alleged that Sister Rose Mary, a member of the Daughters of St. Francis de Sales, was forced to get off the bus on her way from Duhnoi in Meghalaya to neighboring Assam state’s Goalpara area despite having a valid ticket on Feb. 17.

The nun was mocked by co-passengers, mostly Hindus, for her religious habit and faith before she was forcibly deboarded, diocesan officials said.

Auxiliary Bishop Jose Chirackal of Tura told UCA News on Feb. 22 that they have brought the matter to the attention of Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K. Sangma and demanded a probe in the incident while also urging him to take this up with Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswas Sarma.

“When the nun boarded the bus and started the journey there was nothing unusual and it was like in other journeys in the past, but after some time the co-passengers on the bus started to mock her over her habit and also made derogatory remarks about her religious faith,” Chirackal said.

After being dropped off in an isolated place, she managed to get another bus to reach her destination, he said, adding that the incident left her traumatized.

Christian-majority Meghalaya is ruled by the secular National People’s Party while the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) is in power in Assam. The latter has seen a spike in threats and harassment of minority Christians by hardline Hindu groups aligned with the BJP.

Recently, a hardline Hindu group asked Christian schools in the state to remove all religious symbols from their premises. Catholic priests and religious were told to wear Indian traditional clothes instead of religious habits.

Bishop Chirackal alleged there is a connection between threats from Hindu groups and the humiliation of the nun.

Christian leaders have expressed dismay that despite complaints to the state government and police officials no action has been taken against the Hindu hardliners.

Inaction to neutralize Hindu hardliners would make the lives of Christians in Meghalaya difficult as they depend on Assam for various needs including medical treatment and air travel among other things, Chirakal said.

“The Meghalaya government has responded positively to our complaint and state police officials took the statement of the distraught nun and promised to take it up with the Assam government so that no such thing will be repeated,” the prelate added.

Charles Pyngrope, a lawmaker from the opposition Trinamool Congress party has raised harassment of the nun in the state Assembly on Feb. 22.
He sought the intervention of the chief minister saying harassment of religious persons who wear their religious dress is uncalled for.
The CM in his reply said he had already taken up the matter with the Assam Chief Minister who assured him of taking action.

About 75 percent of Meghalaya’s four million people are Christians, according to government data. In Assam, Christians make up only about 3.74 percent of an estimated 31 million people.

Christians account for 2.3 percent of 1.4 billion people in Hindu-majority India.

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3 Comments on this Story
Sadly under Modi rule religious intolerance has seen a steep rise. Also it's important for priests and religious to adapt to Indian forms of dress and master the local language. Though this doesn't diminish the dastardly nature of the attack on a hapless woman. Shame on them.
The report misses out on a very important component of report-writing `WHERE.’ It is very unclear where the nun was heckled and made to get down from her bus. Was it in Meghalaya or in Assam? In the instant case of hardline Hindu groups’ insistence that Christian schools remove all religious symbols from their premises and Catholic priests and religious wear Indian traditional clothes instead of religious habits: 1. Why are the right wing Hindu groups in Assam (and elsewhere) putting their wards in Christian schools if they have so much grievance/ reservations against Christian way of life? They can very well get their wards admitted in other schools/colleges. 2. Why do they make long queues for visas (for education, travel, etc.) to Western countries which are predominantly, though not officially, Christian? These pampered outfits are blissfully unaware of the all-inclusive and pluralistic way of life guaranteed by the Indian Constitution. They are also oblivious of Article 30 (1): right of all Religious and Linguistic Minorities to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice. This is the reward Christian institutions are getting for taking in disproportionate number of students from other communities by sacrificing the interest of their own students for whom they obtained Minority Institution Certificate. This disproportionate ratio of students is particularly glaring in Christian colleges & universities in total disregard to the Supreme Court of India mandate to Religious Minority Institutions to reserve up to fifty per cent seats for students from their own community. This stipulation is not respected by most Christian Minority institutions, at least in Calcutta where no Christian Minority Institution mentions any reservation quota for Christian students. Only Scottish Church College Calcutta officially (as per it website) reserves thirty per cent of its seats for applicants from the Christian Community. Well-known premier Catholic educational institutions in Calcutta do not specify any reservation of seats on the lines of Supreme Court norm; not even as religiously followed by Scottish Church College. St Stephen’s College New Delhi, India’s premier college, reserves fifty per cent seats for Christian students. Christian students are a minority in their own institutions. The love for lucre has taken precedence over the interest of our own students, especially those from economically backward strata who cannot afford the high fees (admission and quarterly) of self-financed courses. The heads of these institutions behave like czars and do not care a hoot for the voice of the Laity. No wonder the parents/guardians (even though they may be `fringe elements’) of the majority group are trying to best to impose their own culture on our Missionary Institutions. The heads of our Minority Institutions must do a serious introspection on the intent of the Founders. Are they adhering to their Vision and Mission? This is the impression one gets in Calcutta where the heads of Christian institutions behave like czars and do not care a hoot for the voice of the Laity. Charles Pyngrope deserves kudos for boldly using his prophetic voice in taking up the nun's harassment issue and escalating it at the appropriate forum.
The Catholic Church, the clergy and religious have never taken seriously the"inculturation" mentioned in the second Vatican Council. Jesus, God's son took the form of a human being and lived in a Jewish community. This is "incarnation". This doen not happen with the priests and nuns as they were, are and will be Roman Catholics!!!
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