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CATHOLIC BISHOPS' CONFERENCE OF INDIA
MEDIA/INFORMATION OFFICE, C.B.C.I CENTRE,
1, ASHOK PLACE, NEAR GOLE DAKKHANA,
NEW DELHI-110001
TEL: 011-23342458, 23344470
FAX: 011-23361022 MOBILE: 09891308309

URGENT & MOST IMPORTANT

To,

Shri Navin Patnaik
Hon'ble Chief Minister of Orissa
Chief Minister's Residence
Bhuabnewshwar, Orissa

July 30, 2007

Sub:

Memorandum to Hon'ble Chief Minister
at the arrest of two religious nuns in Orissa

Shri Navin Patnaikji,

Greetings from Catholic Bishops' Conference of India!

With serious concern, I am bringing to your kind notice about the sad incident that has taken place in your State.

You must be well aware of the contributions made by the Christian community in your State and in the country as a whole. It is also a fact that the sole motive of the Christian community to serve the poor and the needy is to bring them up in their life. The selfless services of the hundreds of the Catholic priests and nuns in your State are well recognized and acknowledged. Theses priests and nuns make huge sacrifices by leaving their families and relatives to dedicate their lives for the service of the poor and the marginalized.

However, the incident of July 28 in your State is a cause of great agnuish to the Christian community. 52 year old Sr. Mary and 61 year old Sr. Prema of the Congregation of St Ann's Sisters have been arrested by police on July 28, 2007 and have been under judicial custody. The sisters were taken to the police station at Bodosahi at 6.00 a.m., and then shifted to the Baripada.

The two sisters have been booked under non-bailable charges accusing them of "forcing the Tribal girls to pray Christian Prayers".

The two sisters who are running a hostel for about 200 Tribal girls from rural areas and helping them to pursue studies in the school are victims of false accusations leveled against them by some disgruntled parents.

Two inmates of the Vijaya Sadana hostel for girls, one studying in Std V and the other in Std IX reportedly complained to some activists associated with the saffron brigade that they were "forced to recite prayers". The activists complained to the police who took the hapless sisters into custody.

The communal forces have been victimizing the Christians and falsely accusing them of promoting conversions in Mayurbhanj District of Orissa since long.

We want to bring to your kind notice about the misuse of Orissa Freedom of Religion Act 98 against Christian priests and nuns. The Orissa Police needs to look into the matter more judiciously than to arrest priests and nuns on baseless charges.

CBCI appeals to you to ensure the security of the Christians in your State and provide protection to the institutions run by the Christian community in your State. We call upon you to withdraw the false case against the nuns who have been serving Tribals in your State.

Submitted to Hon'ble Chief Minister of Orissa on July 30, 2007 by:

Dr. Babu Joseph, SVD
Spokesperson, CBCI &
Director, Media/Information Office, CBCI