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British Sister ordered to leave India given last-minute reprieve

Montfort Sister Jacqueline Jean McEwan visits B Shanti, left, and her mother Venkatalakshmi at their house near Bangalore (CNS photo)

A British Sister who was ordered by Indian authorities to leave the country has been given a last-minute reprieve, it emerged this week.

Sister Jacqueline Jean McEwan, who has been aiding victims of leprosy for almost 30 years with the Sumanahalli Society, has been approved to stay in India and continue her services of helping patients with leprosy.

The notice, issued by the foreign regional registration office in Bangalore, demanding that Sister Jean leave was a mistake, according to Government Minister P Chidambaram.

Last week Sister Jean, who originates from Newcastle, was ordered to leave the country and abandon her missionary work after the Indian government’s refusal to renew her residency permit for no apparent reason.

Sister Jean, known as the Mother Teresa of Sumanahalli, said she received an overwhelming amount of support from many people in the area all praying for an extension of her visa.

On Monday Sister Jean was to board a plane in Bangalore and depart back to London. However, just before leaving for the airport, she was contacted by the Indian government and given a one-month reprieve and permission to renew her residence visa.

“I am absolutely overjoyed,” she told the BBC. “All my friends are overjoyed as well. I am very thankful to everyone who helped me. I have been stopped in the streets by the people who said they are praying that you would be able to stay.”

Now Sister Jean, a Montfort Missionary, will be able to stay in India for as long as she likes and continue to work among leprosy patients at the Sumanahalli Leprosy Rehabilitation Centre.

Since its establishment in 1978, the Sumanahalli Society has served more than 5,000 leprosy patients as well as helping Aids victims and disabled people.