Nun in India Charged with Killing and a Forced Conversion

Christians Say Sister Lucela Lakra Was Framed by Fundamentalists

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CALCUTTA, India, AUG. 22, 2002 ( A group of youth attacked a nun in Assam’s Dibrugrah Diocese before handing her over to police on charges of converting and later killing her sister-in-law, the SAR Catholic news agency reported.

Sister Lucela Lakra, a member of the Adoration Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, was on her way to church July 22 in her native Philobari when the youths assaulted her and hauled her off to Doom Dooma police station, SAR reported.

After a hasty investigation, she was remanded to custody in Dibrugarh without bail.

According to a joint statement issued by the local leaders in Philobari, Sister Lucela had suffered injuries July 17 when trying to break up a fight between her brother Marcus Lakra and his wife Meena Tanti.

A day later, after a visit from her father, Tanti doused herself with kerosene and set herself on fire, officials said. Alerted by a neighborhood girl, Sister Lucela rushed to the scene and tried to put out the fire with a wet blanket.

Tanti’s younger sister Reena and sister-in-law Bhaigyo then entered the house and told the burned woman to lay the blame for the incident on Sister Lucela, officials in Philobari said.

Later, at a hospital, Tanti told a medical attendant that Sister Lucela had set her on fire because she had refused to become a Christian, SAR reported. Tanti later died in Dibrugarh Medical College Hospital.

Christian leaders and parish authorities told SAR that Tanti had become a Christian freely, and with the consent of her parents in 1998 and was a practicing Catholic.

On July 23, Sister Lucela and her brother Marcus appeared before Tinsukia civil court under charges of attempting forcible conversion and murder. They were later transferred to Dibrugrah prison. Both are being held without bail.

Leaders of various Christian communities believe that fundamentalist groups hatched the plot to discredit the Christian missionaries and the Church, SAR said.

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