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BJP on back foot as ABVP attack nuns amid polls in states with sizeable Christians

The incident that occurred on March 19 in Uttar Pradesh sent shockwaves in Kerala, Assam and Tamil Nadu

Thursday March 25, 2021 8:30 PM, ummid.com with inputs from Agencies

Attack on nuns

New Delhi/Jhansi (Uttar Pradesh)/Kottayam (Kerala): The brazen attack on nuns and novices on board a train Thursday continued to haunt the Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP), especially since this came amidst the polls in states with a sizeable presence of Christians.

The incident that occurred on March 19 in Uttar Pradesh sent shockwaves in Kerala, Assam and Tamil Nadu. The matter was also raised by the Congress in Rajya Sabha.

Also Read | BJP, RSS Declare Holy War Against Kerala

Besides, senior Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi attacked the BJP over its divisive politics which they claimed is dividing the country on communal lines, making life tougher for the minorities with every passing day.

According to reports, the incident took place on March 19 when the nuns were travelling on the Haridwar-Puri Utkal Express. A 25-second video from the train compartment shows the women surrounded by some men, and some other who appear to be policemen.

"Go get your luggage. You will be sent home if what you are saying is correct," a man is heard saying while another is heard saying, "Why are you indulging in netagiri?"

"Arre what netagiri. Chaliye madam. Jaldi uthao samaan," the third man is saying.

Police confirm they were ABVP men

Naeem Khan Mansuri, the Superintendent of Railway Police in Jhansi in a detailed statement said:

"There were some members of the ABVP who were returning from a training camp in Rishikesh on board the Utkal express to Jhansi.”

Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) is the student's wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the ideological mentor of the BJP.

Also Read | Attacks on Christians sending wrong message to the world: Bishops' body

"Four Christian ladies were travelling on the same train from Hazrat Nizamuddin in Delhi to Rourkela in Odisha. Two of them were nuns and two were under training. These members of the ABVP suspected that these two nuns were taking the other two women for conversion because the nuns were speaking to the other ladies”, the SP said.

"They informed the Railway Protection Force that then informed the railway police. These ABVP members also gave a written complaint about conversion. I reached the spot and made inquiries. These inquiries revealed that the two other women were from Odisha's Rourkela and were under training”, he added.

"We checked their certificates and both had 2003 baptism certificates and this proved both women by birth were Christian and that no conversion was involved. After this we sent all four women onwards to their destination in Odisha”, he added.

Matter raised in Rajya Sabha

The Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge on Thursday raised the issue of alleged harassment of nuns during a special mention in the House.

Congress Leader Rahul Gandhi attacked the RSS on the issue saying:

"The attack in UP on nuns from Kerala is a result of the vicious propaganda run by the Sangh Parivar to pitch one community against another and trample the minorities. Time for us as a nation to introspect and take corrective steps to defeat such divisive forces.”

Kerala BJP leaders too upset

Kerala unit of BJP too was embarrassed after the incident. The local BJP leaders led by BJP Rajya Sabha member K.J. Alphons, who is contesting from his home turf – Kanjirapally met Union Minister Amit Shah raising concern over the attack.

Earlier, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had written to the MHA seeking strict action in the matter.

Following this, Amit Shah assured that strict action would be taken against all those involved.

"Our government is always “concerned about the minority communities” and I assure you that there will be strict action against those who harassed the nuns in Uttar Pradesh," said Amit Shah.

"I assure all of you that all those who are guilty of harassing the nuns would be brought before the rule of law and the maximum punishment would be given," he added.


Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi termed Amit Shah’s statement “hollow”, and said the home minister vowed action only because of the ensuing elections in 05 states. Taking to Twitter, Priyanka Gandhi wrote:

"Which political party runs the government that enables these goons to harass and demand personal details of young women commuting on a train? BJP
"Which political party do these goons belong to? BJP
"Which party's student wing are some of them members of? BJP
"And now that there is an election in Kerala HM @AmitShah is busy giving hollow statements about protecting nuns from harassment. Really?"

Elections will be held in Assam, Kerala, West Bengal, Puducherry and Tamil Nadu starting from March 27, 2021. Four of the five states have a sizeable Christian population with Kerala having over 18%, Tamil Nadu having about 6%, Puducherry about 11%, and Assam where Christianity is a third largest religion.


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