The rise of so-called fringe groups whose sole agenda seems to harass the minorities is on the rise in Madhya Pradesh. Members of Matrushakti, a female wing of the VHP, and Bajrang Dal (responsible for the gruesome burning alive of the Australian national Graham Staines and his two small sons in Orissa(Odisha) a decade or so ago) have become bolder and louder. Such groups carrying out all sorts of intimidation and threats are becoming commonplace, say observers.
On Tuesday this week, members of these two groups prowling the Satna railway station, made a nun and her companions get off a train bound for Indore and marched them to the railway station where they had her detained for ‘forcible conversion’. When that false claim didn’t stick, these groups have now compelled the police station to register a case of ‘kidnapping’ against her.
A Catholic nun was booked for allegedly kidnapping a minor girl by Government Railway Police, Satna, on Thursday. Two days before, the nun was detained for alleged forcible conversion of four persons, a charge that turned out to be false.
Sister Bina, three women and the minor were made to get off the Indore-bound Shipra Express on Tuesday by the GRP following a tip from a Hindutva group that tribal women from Jharkhand were being taken to Bhopal for conversion to Christianity.
Members of Matrushakti, a female wing of the VHP, and Bajrang Dal were present when the GRP made the women get off the train when it reached Satna station. After detaining them for nearly 12 hours, the police said no case of conversion could be proved against them because the women were already following Christianity.
Then they charged the nun for illegally transporting a ‘minor’ though the women maintain that the Aadhar card of the eighteen year old girl has a wrong entry.
The minor was handed over to Childline while the nun and the three women were ordered to be released by sub-divisional magistrate Balbeer Raman. Not satisfied with the administration’s action, Bajrang Dal activists protested over the last two days demanding action against the nun.
While Sister Bina insisted that the minor’s date of birth on her Aadhaar card was wrong and that she was more than 18 years old, Satna GRP In-charge S S Bagri told The Indian Express late Thursday that the nun was booked under Section 363 (kidnapping) of the IPC after the minor’s father arrived from Jharkhand.
The father told the police that he was under the impression that his daughter was being taken to Chennai, not Bhopal. He said the case diary would be sent to Jharkhand because the alleged offence took place there.
A day earlier, a delegation of the Christian community led by Fr Maria Stephen met Additional DG (Rail) G P Singh and submitted a memorandum on alleged harassment of missionaries during train travel.
“Like any other community, Christians have the right to travel for the sake of study, job and other religious purposes but whenever they travel in a group with their leaders they are accused of religious conversion,’’ the memorandum said.
It cited a recent incident when 60 children and their caretakers were detained at Ratlam railway station while they were on way to Nagpur to attend a seminar. The caretakers were booked under the Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act and Section 363 of the IPC, even though some of them were relatives of the children.
The Indian Express had spoken to many of the parents, who said they were already following Christianity and that the children were travelling with their consent.