An Indian nun and her mother have been arrested in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh, following allegations of religious conversion, a violation of local anti-conversion laws. Sister Bibha Kerketta of the Daughters of St. Anne congregation, her mother, and three other individuals were taken into custody on June 6 after a home-based Mass ceremony.
The ceremony, organised by her family to celebrate Sister Kerketta’s recent religious profession, was disrupted by Hindu extremists who accused the gathering of conducting a healing session and disrespecting other religions. Christian groups, however, refute these accusations, stating that the mass was only attended by Catholic friends, relatives, and neighbours of the nun.
Sister Kerketta had taken her vows six months earlier in Ranchi, the capital of the neighbouring state of Jharkhand. She had returned home in Balachhapar village, Jashpur district, after completing a language course in English and Hindi.
Local law enforcement is reportedly seeking other attendees of the mass. The detainees, including Sister Kerketta’s mother and three others, were subsequently taken to a prison in Jashpur. Their bail applications are scheduled to be heard on June 13.
The Dainik Jagran, a popular Hindi newspaper, reported that the alleged healing session and conversion caused turmoil in Jashpur, located approximately 425 km northeast of the state capital, Raipur. The report states that local political and Hindu group leaders claimed that Sister Kerketta and her family insulted Hindu deities and incited local villagers. Following these allegations, a police team was dispatched to the location, leading to the arrest and subsequent charges under the state’s anti-conversion law.
Local Christian leaders have expressed concern over the incident, stating it has left the Christian community feeling threatened. Reports indicate that a crowd of around 20 people had confronted the nun’s mother, subjected her to physical assault, and even destroyed a Bible and other religious artifacts found in their home.