Nuns unshaken by violence against them in Orissa

October 1st, 2008 - 5:07 pm ICT by IANS  

Kozhikode, Oct 1 (IANS) Catholic nuns from Kerala say the attack on their compatriots in Orissa will not deter them from carrying on their work in that state, though they are pained by the inaction of the state and central governments in protecting them.A large number of nuns from Kerala belonging to various catholic congregations work in many states throughout the country. One among these congregations is the Franciscan Clarist Congregation (FCC) based in Kochi.

One of the members of the congregation, Mable, 30, died here Saturday following malaria which she contracted while hiding in a forest in Orissa.

“Sister Mable was hiding in the forest for around two weeks after their dispensary was attacked. She did not get any treatment for malaria. She had lost her way in the forest and had to roam there for some time,” her colleague Sister Theophin told IANS from Kochi.

Mable reached Kerala in the second week of September. Her condition worsened and she died in a hospital at Kozhikode.

The nuns of FCC lead an “active and contemplative life”. “We run schools in Orissa. They are not higher secondary, but elementary schools giving basic education,” said Sister Celia, the superior general of the congregation.

Mables’ colleagues say that she was unshaken by her experience.

“She told us that she wanted to go back to Orissa after regaining her health. Mable had been trained as a nurse. She was working in a dispensary at Ruthunga in Kandhmahal.”

The violence against Christians erupted in Orissa after a Hindu leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati was murdered Aug 23 in Kandhamal district in that state.

“Sister Mable and two of her colleagues were calling us over their mobile phone. But that also ceased after the phone lost its power. They could escape only after they had changed into villagers’ clothes,” she added.

Sister Emeline, head of Kerala province of Carmelite Sisters of Saint Theresa said her community “is not afraid of the attacks but only concerned about the developments”.

She said the destitute home for children run by her congregation at Baliguda in Kandhamal district was ransacked by a mob. “They took away all the computers from the computer centre of our institution. Ten sisters along with 140 children had to take refuge in the forest for five days. The same institution had been attacked earlier, in last December.”

Emeline said the nuns remained concerned only on account of their wards. They had left the place only after entrusting the children to their relatives.

“They were ready to return; but we asked them to stay back for some time. The instance of a gang rape (of a nun) had unnerved us,” she added

She said it is not the Hindus who are behind the violence. “It is wrong to say that Hindus are behind the violence. The attackers are only politicians. Many Hindus in Orissa actually help Christians, providing them refuge, food and other facilities,” she added.

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