MUMBAI, India – A religious sister in Assam, India, has been allegedly harassed by a bus driver and several passengers who insulted her religious habit and Christian faith.

The Meghalaya State Commission for Women (MSCW) has written to its Assam counterpart urging it to take action into the alleged harassment of the Christian nun from Garo Hills in Assam. The issue was in the Meghalaya Assembly.

According to sources, the MSCW urged the Assam State Commission for Women (ASCW) to identify those involved and to take action against them. The commission also appealed to the government of Assam to look into the matter.

Assam is a state in northeastern India, south of the eastern Himalayas. According to the 2011 census, 61.47 percent of the population were Hindus, 34.22 percent were Muslims and 3.7 percent were Christians. It is run by the Himanta Biswa Sarma party (BJP), a Hindu-nationalist organization.

Meghalaya is the state directly to the south of Assam, and is run by the National Peoples Party. Nearly 75 percent of its population is Christian, with 11.5 percent Hindu and 4.4 percent Muslim. The area was part of Assam state until 1972.

On Feb. 23, the MSCW strongly condemning the incident on the bus, and said such incidents can cause serious problems to the victim both as a woman and as a religious person.

“Hence the Commission urges the government of Meghalaya and government of Assam to coordinate with each other and ensure that the perpetrators are found and brought to justice,” the MSCW stated.

It also added that religious tolerance and respect should be maintained between the peoples of both states.

Auxiliary Bishop Jose Chirackal of Tura has taken up the matter with the chief minister and other government officials.

A statement sent to Crux by Father Richard Majaw, the Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Shillong, said Sister Rosemary, who served at St. John’s Parish in Siju, “faced harassment while she was travelling from Dudhnoi to Goalpara on February 17.”

“Soon after, the bus conductor and some of the passengers began to make derogatory remarks on her, her religious habit and her faith. After some time, they stopped the bus at an isolated place and she was forced to alight from the bus,” the statement continued.

“Though she had already paid the fare upto Dudhnoi, the nun was compelled to take another bus to reach Goalpara. The incident caused serious mental agony and harassment to Sister Rosemary both as a woman and a religious person. With the help of some other people, the sister then took another bus to proceed to Goalpara,” the statement said.

“There are numerous religious priests and nuns in Assam who wear their religious dress as any other place in the country. Harassment of people because they wear a particular dress or religious habit is ridiculous and unheard of. Such incidents take place because of a false narrative and propaganda spread against a particular religion. It is the duty of any Government to take adequate steps to curb such propaganda and create an atmosphere of social and religious harmony among the citizens,” it said.

The statement noted that many Catholic religious from Meghalaya go to Assam for purposes of travel, medical care, and visiting markets. Many of them wear their religious habit or carry religious symbols.

Charles Pyngrope, a member of the Meghalaya Assembly, has raised the issue in the government.

On Feb. 22, he sought the intervention of the Chief Minister, saying  the harassment of religious persons who wear their religious dress is “uncalled for.”

In reply, the Chief Minister said he has taken up the matter with Assam Chief Minister, who assured action against the perpetrators.