Union Minister of Railways Piyush Goyal on Monday dismissed allegations that nuns were attacked in Uttar Pradesh during a train journey on March 19, reported PTI.
“There was no attack on any nun whatsoever...the chief minister of the state [Kerala] is completely lying and making false statements when he says that,” Goyal said at a press conference in Kochi.
On March 24, reports said that four nuns from Kerala were forced to get off a train by the railway police in Jhansi for interrogation, after members of Hindutva group Bajrang Dal accused them of illegal conversions. A purported video of the incident, which was widely circulated on social media on the same day, showed a group of men interrogating two postulants who were with the nuns. The men also forced the postulants to show their Aadhaar cards and other identity proof.
When one of the postulants told them that she was born a Christian and had not been forced into converting, the men accused the girl of lying. “Does this say you were born a Christian,” a man can be heard asking, as he waves the girl’s Aadhaar card in front of her. “This does not say you are a Christian.” The Aadhaar Act does not record the caste, religion or race of individuals to ensure that these demographics are not used to discriminate among citizens.
Goyal told reporters on Monday that the police conducted an investigation based on the allegations. “It is the duty of the police to find out whether the complaint is correct or wrong,” he said. “Police made enquiries. They checked all their documents, made enquiries [to ensure] that they are genuine passengers going for the correct purpose and then immediately let them go.”
Piyush Goyal alleged that the Kerala chief minister was trying to appease minorities and was indulging in vote bank politics by spreading lies, reported The Hindu. He said the allegations made by Vijayan were baseless.
The Union minister also denied that student activists associated with a Sangh Parivar outfit had harassed the nuns. “That is absolutely wrong,” Goyal said, without mentioning who filed the complaint against the nuns.
The incident sparked a controversy, with the Opposition accusing the Bajrang Dal of harassing the nuns on a false pretext. The Kerala chief minister also wrote to Union Home Minister Amit Shah, saying that the harassment was “shocking”, and demanded that he instruct authorities to take strict action in the case. Shah had promised action while speaking at an election rally in Kanjirappally district.
Kerala will conduct its Assembly election on April 6. Results will be out on May 2.