The West Bengal government handed over the investigation in the gangrape of an elderly nun to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Wednesday, chief minister Mamata Banerjee tweeted, as criticism of the police probe mounted with no arrests five days after the crime.
The development came on a day the National Human Rights Commission issued a notice to the state government and a top Catholic functionary urged authorities to ensure justice in the gangrape of the 71-year-old nun at a convent in Ranaghat of Nadia district on Saturday that also saw the suspects loot Rs 12 lakh.
“Considering the seriousness and sensitivity of the case, I have decided to entrust investigation of the case to the CBI. Our government will provide all necessary co-operation and assistance,” the CM wrote on the microblogging site.
This is the first time Banerjee has handed over a probe to the central agency that she regularly accuses of hatching a political conspiracy against the Bengal government.
The decision came amid intense speculation by state detectives that the culprits had fled to Bangladesh through a porous border, merely 50 kilometres away from Ranaghat.
"Police are making their best efforts. Considering the fact that the place is very close to border area I have decided to entrust case to CBI," Mamata tweeted.
The convent is just a 10-minute walk from the Ranaghat station and detectives told HT it was likely the suspects took a morning train to the border and crossed over.
“The suspicion that suspects might have escaped to Bangladesh is creeping up fast. Over the past five days, we have virtually scanned the entire state but have drawn a blank everywhere,” a CID officer told HT.
The state government has been under pressure to nab the culprits in the sensational case that has attracted international condemndation with Mamata’s convoy mobbed by angry protesters on Monday when she was returning after visiting the victim.
Criticism of the state police has been more acute owing to CCTV footage of four suspects – captured by cameras in the convent – aired repeatedly by television channels.
President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India Baselios Cardinal Cleemis visited Kolkata on Wednesday, asking the authorities to ensure justice.
"Justice should be made visible and such act should not continue. We are here to see personally what has happened," he said.