Thiruvananthapuram, Sept. 25: Three nuns of the Missionaries of Charity were attacked in a Harijan colony today, allegedly by BJP-RSS activists, in northern Kozhikode district.
This is the first time Mother Teresa's followers have been targeted in Kerala. They belong to Sneha Bhavan, a charity home.
The missionaries, along with five others ' a Kenyan volunteer was among them ' were injured and are undergoing treatment at a private hospital in Kozhikode.
Witnesses said a gang of drunken youths attacked Sister Rose Merlin and Sister Sherleena this morning as they got off a van at the Mambazhakad Meethal 4-Cent Colony to distribute ration cards to residents.
The colony falls under Nallalam police station, about 13 km from Kozhikode.
A mob shouting 'BJP-RSS zindabad' and 'Bharat Mata ki jai' pounced on the nuns and the driver of their van, accusing them of 'converting Harijans'.
They also snatched the nuns' rosaries.
The three took refuge in Nallalam police station and informed Sneha Bhavan.
When Mother Superior Kusumam and four others came in an ambulance to fetch the injured, a 30-strong mob attacked them with sharp weapons. The 43-year-old nun received injuries on her head and legs.
Residents said none of the assailants was from their colony.
Kummanam Rajsekharan, the convener of the Hindu Aikyavedi, condemned the incident and said members of his organisation were in no way connected with the incidents.
Chief minister Oommen Chandy said he has directed police to take stringent action against the culprits.
Describing the attack as a blot on the record of communal amity in Kerala, Chandy said: 'Cowards have targeted a congregation known for its universal service of the poor and the sick.'
Residents said the nuns used to frequent the colony, comprising 130 Harijan families, with provisions and other items. But they never preached their faith or tried to convert anyone.
Sister Martinelle told The Telegraph at the Missionaries' regional house in Kochi that she came to know of the incident from neighbours who watched the news on TV. Regional superior Sister Anjelette, councillor Sister Josephat and two other nuns have left for Kozhikode.
The Missionaries of Charity run 11 houses in Kerala. Sneha Bhavan has five nuns and houses 50-odd patients, most of them mentally challenged or old. Donations from residents help run the charity.
Sister Martinelle said Hindutva activists have so far targeted Protestant outfits.
In 2001, RSS workers had attacked American missionary Joseph Cooper on the outskirts of Thiruvananthapuram, charging him with indulging 'in religious propaganda' and 'making fun of Hindu deities'.
However, recently a Catholic priest, Job Chittilapally, was murdered by a youth, with alleged links to the Sangh, in Thrissur.
The Syro-Malabar Church organised a mammoth rally in Thrissur, alleging that the police were trying to cover up the conspiracy behind the murder. The police crime branch has taken over the case.