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Indian nuns urge govt to trace missing girl

She was trained by Sisters of Charity of Nazareth but alleged harassment to change her religion before going missing
Tribal people protest against the controversial land bill in Jharkhand state

Tribal people protest against the controversial land bill in Jharkhand state. (Photo: Bijay Kumar Minj)

 

Published: April 05, 2024 11:15 AM GMT
Updated: April 05, 2024 11:37 AM GMT

A group of nuns in the eastern Indian Jharkhand state has asked a top government official to trace a missing girl, who has accused them of trying to convert her.

“Indra Kumari [name changed] came to our center last July and was undergoing training in tailoring. But since Good Friday [March 29] she has been missing,” Sister Mukta Marandi, an official at the Premashray Sanstha (shelter of love) in the state.

The Sisters of Charity of Nazareth have been running the center for 15 years. Girls aged between 5 and 18 are admitted there on the recommendation of the state-run Child Welfare Committee (CWC), Sister Marandi told UCA News on April 5.

Abandoned and runaway girls "are brought to us and we train them before handing them over to the CWC,” she said.

Kumari came here for training, but after leaving wrote a letter to the CWC alleging harassment by the nuns to change her religion.

"The allegations are baseless,” Sister Marandi said and added that some vested group may be behind it to malign them and their training center.

On April 4, members from the center met District Collector Rahul Kumar Sinha in the state capital Ranchi and urged him to trace Kumari.

“The girl should be located immediately so that the truth can be known,” they told Sinha in a memorandum.

Ratan Tirkey, who is associated with the center as an advisor, said an internal fact-finding team has been set up to find the truth.

Jharkhand has a sweeping anti-conversion law passed by the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party of Prime Minister Narendra Modi when it ruled the state in 2017.

The state is currently led by the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (liberation front), a regional party from the state.

The draconian law bans religious conversion by force or allurement. Hindu nationalists often accuse Christians of surreptitious tactics to convert Hindus from the lower strata of society.

“We suspect the role of political parties,” said Tirkey, a former member of the tribal advisory committee of the Jharkhand government.

Christians, mostly tribal people, make up 4.30 percent while Hindus constitute 67.83 percent of the state's 33 million people.

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