Jail term “unique experience:” priest, nun

The duo was arrested for killing crane chicks.

Ucan News : Posted on September 3, 2012, 8:18 AM

By Jessy Joseph
New Delhi:


A priest and nun who spent 24 days in a northern Indian jail for violating wild life act say the experience helped them understand the plight of prisoners.

“Now I know the difficulties of being a prisoner,” said Queen of the Apostles Sister Deena, who was arrested along with Fr. Simon D’Cunha. “I will pray for them in a special way daily. I also pray that no one should be arrested or jailed,” she told ucanindia.in Sunday, two days after her release from the jail.

The Forest Department of Uttarakhand state arrested the two Church people on August 8 for allegedly killing more than 250 white crane chicks while trimming a tree in a school compound.

Fr. D’Cunha is the manager of Prabhat Tara Junior School in Pachuakhera and Sr Deena is its principal.

The district court in Haldwani had initially rejected their bail application but on Aug.29 the state High Court in Nainital granted them bail. However, they were confined to the jail for two more days for some technical problems.

The nun said she had never expected to be in jail. “Initially it was difficult for me to accept the fact,” she said. She said she wore the same sari for two days as she had not taken any provisions with her when she went to the police station. The police presented her in a local court that sent her to jail.

She was kept in a cell that had 45 women and the priest was in another cell with 70 men.

Sr. Deena said the jailer’s wife, a former student of her school, brought dress and toilet articles for her. The cell had two toilets with half doors.

“I found it very difficult and did not take bath for two days. That was a big problem for me. But then I overcame the difficulties. There was not enough water in the cell to have proper bath. The inmates used to help me to carry water,” she narrated.

Each prisoner is given seven chaptis and dal (lentils) around 11 am and at night. On Sundays, they get rice and dal in the afternoon.

“Although I was not accustomed to sleep on the floor I adjusted to it within two days. We had to get up at 6 am and then line up for attendance. After that we were free to do whatever we want. I used to spend time in prayer,” she said.

The 58-year-old nun with high blood pressure said her roommates treated her well and called her “Guru Mai (mother teacher). “They used to console me. There were four mothers with breast feeding children. I felt very sorry for them,” she added.

She said she took her jail term as “an opportunity to practice my faith. I was the only Christian in the cell. I read the Bible loudly and spoke to them about Christ and the religious life,” she added.

She said her roommates were crying when she left the jail. She planned to go a medical treatment for a few days before returning to the school.

Fr. D’Cunha described his jail term as “a unique experience,” that helped him understand the prisoner’s difficulties.

He said he too took some time to adjust to the new situation. “I took it as challenge and spent days talking to other prisoners and praying for them,” he said. His cell had two drug addicts and he could convince them the illeffects of drug addiction. “At least for 15 days they did not use drugs,” he claimed. The priest said he plans to visit his mother and then return to the school.

Forest Department , Priest , Nun , Arrest , Jail , Uttarakhand , Wild Life Act , Violation ,


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