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Published in the 16-31 Oct 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition


Goons attack nuns in Kerala

By K Hamza

Calicut: Seven members of Christian Missionaries of Charity, including four nuns and three brothers and their two drivers were attacked by some miscreants at Olavanna Panchayat in Calicut on Saturday, morning of 25th September. A nun, sister Kusumam, 43, suffered serious head injuries and was admitted to hospital along with the other injured.

Two nuns, Sr. Cyrilina and Rose Merlin, and their driver Saji were assaulted when they arrived in the impoverished hutments in the village for relief work. They had been doing relief works in this colony for the past eighteen months. It was reported that there was nothing unusual nor provocative behaviour on the part of the missionaries. But suddenly, a gang of five men emerged at the spot, shouting that they won’t allow conversion of the inmates of the colony. According to eye witnesses in the colony, the attacker kicked the driver and slapped the nuns.

On getting news of the attack, another team from the nearby office of the Missionaries, led by Sr. Kusumam accompanied by a brother, Bernard, a Kenyan citizen arrived in the colony at around 12 noon. The gang attacked them also. They threw mud on them and damaged their vehicle. Some inmates of the colony tried to protect the relief team till the police arrived. The nuns told the attackers that they had come to the camp for relief work as usual and they were not carrying on forced conversions. The injured nun and her driver were admitted to hospital.

The nuns used to visit this colony of 107 destitute families, most of them elderly and sick. On that day, the nuns had distributed only some ration cards to the poor and aged so that they could collect five kg rice and half kg green gram from the Missionary of Charity every month.

Various political parties and religious organizations have condemned the attack. The Kerala Catholic Youth Movement said that they would start an agitation if the culprits were not identified immediately and punished. The Hindu Aikyavedi has also condemned the attack. But they have accused the Kenyan citizen, Bernard, who arrived in India on a tourist visa, of speaking in a derogatory manner about the Hindu deities and said such moves would be resisted by the local Hindu community. 

Condemning the attack, the National Development Front (NDF) opined that such attacks are common practice in the north, the RSS is now trying to expand this to the south as well. The RSS district unit has denied its involvement in the attack.

An intensive investigation is being conducted by the police to bring to book the real culprits .In a recent convention, the senior Police Officers have evaluated the incident and chalked out a strategy to foil any attempt to disrupt communal harmony in the State. Although the incident took place in bright daylight, the witnesses are reluctant to come forward, fearing reprisals from the culprits.

See also: Kerala - questions over vicar’s killing

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