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Nuns forced off train: Railway Police initiates probe; VHP leader who alerted cops says did no wrong

The ABVP members had allegedly falsely accused the women of engaging in forced religious conversion.

Written by Asad Rehman , Avishek G Dastidar | Lucknow, New Delhi |
Updated: March 26, 2021 2:58:33 am
Kerala nuns attack, Jhansi nuns attack bajrang dal, Nuns attacked in UP, Bajrang Dal Kerala Nuns, Nuns Bajrang dal video, Pinarayi Vijayan, Amit Shah on nun attack, Indian expressTwo nuns and two postulants of the Sacred Hearts Congregation of Delhi Province were forced to get off a train by the Railway police. (Video screengrab)

The Superintendent of Police of Government Railway Police (GRP) on Thursday began a “detailed inquiry” into the incident in which four Christian women, including two nuns, were allegedly verbally harassed and forced off a train in Jhansi by GRP personnel and some fellow passengers, identified as ABVP workers.

The ABVP members had allegedly falsely accused the women of engaging in forced religious conversion.

The incident, which occurred at Jhansi station on March 19, was brought to light in a video that showed the women being heckled, prompting a wave of outrage across Kerala, where the nuns come from, and an assurance from Union Home Minister Amit Shah.

I-G (Railways) Satyendra Kumar Singh said SP (Lucknow) of GRP, who holds charge of Jhansi, has been asked to visit the place for a detailed probe. “He is in Jhansi, and we hope to get a report from him with findings in a couple of days,” I-G Singh said. Asked if he has received a complaint from the women, he said, “I have not received any complaint.”

RPF Station Officer (Jhansi) Sunil Kumar Singh also said, “We have not received any complaint, and no FIR has been lodged.”

Anchal Arjariya, the VHP leader in Jhansi whose name figures in the police station diary entry as the person who alerted the authorities about suspected “conversion” by Christian nuns, on Thursday told The Indian Express that the issue is being made a big due to the Assembly polls in Kerala, which has a substantial Christian population. “We did no wrong. It is our duty to inform the police. If we suspect terrorists, or that there is a bomb, who would we inform, if not the police,” he asked.

In the General Diary entry of GRP, Jhansi, Arjariya’s name features as the person who called up Inspector Suneel Kumar Singh, who probed and also wrote the entry the next day about the four Christian women, including two nuns, travelling on Utkar Express.

Arjariya describes himself on social media as a social and spiritual activist, vibhag pramukh, VHP, district maha-mantri, Hindu Jagran Manch, member of Gau Sanrakshan Samiti, Jhansi, and a member of Red Cross Society.

Inspector Sunil Singh said that stoppage time of the train was too short, and there was no scope to verify the complaint without removing the women from the train – Utkar Express halts at Jhansi for around 10 minutes.

“We couldn’t have detained the train either – it takes time to come to a conclusion while probing any complaint,” he said. The station entry lists this as a matter of suspected human trafficking.

Singh said it would not have been proper for the police to leave the women at the mercy of a mob — a plea, sources said, that is likely to feature in the internal probe being conducted.

Stating that the police performed their duty “100 per cent”, Singh said, “The police do not leave anyone at the mercy of a mob…. We did not show any disrespect to the women. When the matter was found to be fake, we respectfully let them go.”

While the main complainant, co-passenger Ajay Shankar Tiwari of ABVP, wrote in his complaint that he was in fact travelling in the next coach from the four women, he also wrote that he informed Arjariya over the phone from the train. Arjariya said that after the matter was found to be baseless, he “scolded” Tiwari.

Inspector Singh said the women can lodge a complaint of fake allegations and even defamation against Tiwari if they want.

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