NHRC should direct the UP Government to take strict legal action against the perpetrators and ensure women’s safety and the constitutional liberty to practise religion

27 March, 2021: National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) stands in solidarity with the four Christian women, two nuns and two postulants, who were verbally harassed and surrounded by police and a mob and forced off a train in Uttar Pradesh on March 19, under false allegations of ‘forcible conversions’. The two nuns and two postulants from the Sacred Heart convent under the Kerala-based Syro-Malabar Church, were travelling from New Delhi to Rourkela in Odisha. In videos of the incident, men who claimed to be members of right wing hindutva groups heckled the four women and called the police and accused the nuns of ‘forcibly converting’ young girls. 

The actions of the men were illegal, yet instead of booking them for verbally harassing women in a public place, the officials of the Government Railway Police (GRP) and the Railway Protection Force (RPF) deboarded the four women. According to reports, they attempted to take them to the Jhansi station without the presence of a woman police officer, and refused to accept their Aadhar cards as proof of identity. Instead, the police detained them until 11 pm at the GRP station as they ‘investigated’ the matter. The fact that there was no “forced conversion” occurring would have been amply clear from the fact that all four were christians. 

The right to freedom of expression and movement as well the right to freedom of religion have been enshrined in our Constitution. They were both violated through the actions of the right-wing groups as well as that of the GRP and RPF staff. Attacks on people belonging to religious minorities, right-wing vigilantism and attacks on women have been on the increase in UP, with active or tacit participation of the state. 

NAPM strongly condemns the present instance of attack on women’s safety and on the right to practice one’s religion, as well as the communal mindset it speaks of.  

The police must take action against Ajay Shankar Tewari, member of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidhyarthi Parishad, who filed a false complaint that was a targeted attack on women belonging to a religious minority. 

We demand that the UP govt take immediate action against the perpetrators and NHRC take cognizance of the increasing violence targeting religious minorities in UP.  

NAPM India