Sunday, July 29, 2007

Nuns held for trying to 'convert' students

Two nuns in Mayurbhanj district were arrested on Saturday for allegedly making two non-Christian girls sing hymns in praise of Christ. Sister Mary (60) and Sister Prema (63) were accused of attempting to forcibly convert the girls studying at Bijay Sadan, a Catholic residential school in Baghamara.

Following the arrests, Father Isaac of the Catholic Diocese in Balasore, rushed to Mayurbhanj. He said the charges were "cooked up".

The arrests were made after Sarojini Murmu (12) and Anjana Behera (10) complained that they were compelled to participate in prayers against their wish.

They also accused the nuns of "physically and mentally torturing" them when they refused to sing the hymns.

"The girls' parents also did not like the school making them sing hymns. They claimed that at the time of admission, school authorities had said prayers were not mandatory," Mayurbhanj SP S K Singh said.

Singh and the additional district magistrate conducted inquiries after they received an FIR on July 25.

"The complaint was prima facie true," the SP said. The nuns were booked under Sections 323 (causing simple hurt) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code and Section 4 (forcibly attempting conversion) of the Orissa Freedom of Religion Act.

The issue came to light after Murmu, a Class IX student, and Behera, a Class VI student, ran away from the school hostel on July 13.

However, the school did not inform the parents and approached the police only after the parents came to know about their children leaving the hostel.

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