“In the case of forceful deboarding of nuns and teenagers from coach B-2 of Utkal Express at Jhansi railway station on 19 March 2021, the district administration and police administration have detained Anchal Arjaria and Purgesh Amaria for involvement in the incident,” a statement from the Jhansi administration said. “Against will be taken against others also.”
On March 24, reports said that two nuns and two postulants 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.
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. The men also forced the postulants to show their Aadhaar cards and other identity proof.
On Thursday, a railway police official said they were informed about two men discussing the March 19 incident, saying that the police did not act properly and let off the nuns.
“The men were questioned and the men got agitated and said they would plan a protest against the cops,” senior railway police official Naeem Kham Mansoori said. “This is why they have been arrested. The police have taken suo moto cognisance of this case and we will file an FIR [first information report] and send them to jail.”
The incident had sparked a controversy, with the Opposition accusing the Bajrang Dal of harassing the nuns on a false pretext. Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had written 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 the Kanjirappally district.
On Monday, Union Minister of Railways Piyush Goyal had dismissed allegations that nuns were attacked. The minister also denied that student activists associated with a Sangh Parivar outfit had harassed the nuns.
The next day, Vijayan deplored Goyal’s remarks about the incident and accused the Bharatiya Janata Party of spewing “an utter lie”.