Print Version    Email to Friend
India expels 86-year-old Spanish nun

NEW DELHI (UCAN): The Indian government has refused to renew the visa of the 86-year-old Sister Enedina, from the Daughters of Charity, who has worked for the country’s poor for five decades.
 
The Spanish nun’s visa renewal was refused on August 11 and she was given only 10 days to leave the country. She flew out from New Delhi on August 20 on a flight to Spain.
Sister Enedina, who is a medical doctor, had been helping poor people in the country’s east since the mid-1960s. 
 
Sister Martha Pradhan, head of her congregation’s North India Province, said Sister Enedina had renewed her visa periodically ever since she came to Berhampur in 1965, but the government rejected it this time around.
 
“She applied online to renew her visa in the first week of August, paid the fees and completed all the formalities … we then received the notice that she had to leave the country within 10 days,” Sister Pradhan said, adding, “We were not told why the visa was not renewed.” 
 
The Federal Ministry of External Affairs deals with visa issues but maintains a policy that it denies visas without stating any reasons.
 
A ministry official said, “A visa, as a rule, is often denied if it is incompatible with the purpose of the visit as mentioned in the visa application of the applicant. The government, like any other government, believes that the right to grant visas remains the sole prerogative of the host country concerned.” 
 
The development comes amid criticism that the government of prime minister, Narendra Modi, which was reelected by landslide in May, has been supportive of hardline Hindu groups pushing to make India a Hindu-only nation.
 
Hindu groups have been demanding the expulsion of all foreign missionaries from India, accusing them of using social work as a façade for converting dalit (lower caste, untouchable) and tribal people to Christianity.
 
Sister Enedina earned bachelor’s degrees in medicine and surgery from Madrid Capital Medical College in 1959.
 
Arriving in Berhampur several years later, she opened a dispensary to cater to the healthcare needs of local people—mostly tribal and socially poor dalit people.
 
Five years later, she moved to Mohana village in nearby Gajapati district and began working for the education of Dalit and tribal people.
 
Sister Enedina’s 54-year missionary career as a doctor, nurse and teacher forced “many in the area to consider her their mother,” Sister Pradhan said.
 
She said Sister Enedina will “live in one of our houses” in Spain.
 
Bishop Sarat Chandra Nayak of Berhampur expressed sadness at what happened to Sister Enedina.
 
“It is unfortunate that such a qualified and trained nun had to leave the country,” Bishop Nayak said. “It indeed is a loss. We don’t have many sisters qualified as doctors who will work in remote areas among the tribals and Dalits.” 

More from this section