The man who served a prison term for the murder of a Kerala nun feels that the forgiveness shown to him by the slain nun’s family has given him “new life.”
It all started in 2002, when Swami Sadanand, a Carmelite Father met Samandar Singh, who had murdered a 41-year-old nun, Sister Rani Maria near Indore by stabbing her more than 50 times.
It took the father nearly two months to convince Singh that Sister Rani Maria’s family had forgiven him and wanted to meet him.
“I trust you, but are you sure her family wants to meet me? I am asking this as I have done nothing to earn their forgiveness,” Singh would keep asking, according to a Hindustan Times report.
Samandar Singh was an ordinary villager who used to do odd jobs for earning money. In 1992, Sister Rani, the professed sister of the Franciscan Clarist Congregation, got posted in Udainagar and started working with the tribal and Dalit communities in Bijnor (Uttar Pradesh) and Satna (MP).
It was due to her efforts for these communities, that the people started acknowledging her and she managed to build a rapport with them.
In 1995, Sister Rani Maria boarded a bus from Udainagar to Indore. Samandar, Jeevan and their accomplice Dharmendra were already in the bus. One of the man accused her of trying to convert the people to christianity and later Samandar stabbed her to death.
Selmy Paul was the first one who received the news of her sister’s death. She was working as a nun in Bhopal at that time. “The first thought that came to my mind was that I would never forgive my sister’s assassin,” said Selmy.
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However, years later, Sister Selmy started believing that her sister’s death was God’s plan and Samandar Singh was merely an instrument. This thought reportedly gave her the power to pardon Sister Rani’s assassin.
In 2002, Selmy went to meet Singh in prison on Raksha Bandhan. August 21, 2002 still remains an unforgettable day for her.
“Singh was shivering when he stood before her with his hands folded,” she recalls. “We have forgiven you. Do not keep anything in your heart. Be good to everyone,” Sister Selmy said to him and tied a rakhi on his wrist.
In August 2006, after spending nearly 12 years in the prison. He was released on probation.
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After coming out from the jail, Singh visited Sister Selmy’s family in Pulluvazhy and could not believe that the family of the woman whom he murdered had forgiven him and embraced him as their third son.
Singh’s life has changed completely. He now spends his time farming and grazing cattle in MP.
“I am doing things which I used to do earlier, But now there’s no bad company,” he said.
He makes sure to visit Sister Rani Maria’s grave and memorial – which he constructed at the spot where she was murdered.