Kolkata protesters to march against nun's gangrape, seek solidarity
Suspected robbers barged in at the missionary-run school Nadia's Ranaghat, located over 75km from Kolkata, early on Saturday and raped the nun and took away Rs 12 lakh kept in an almirah.india Updated: Mar 16, 2015 13:48 IST
Thousands are expected to join a rally led by priests in Kolkata on Monday in support of a 71-year-old nun who was gangraped at her convent school in West Bengal's Nadia district, the city's archbishop said.
Suspected robbers barged in at the missionary-run school Nadia's Ranaghat, located over 75km from Kolkata, early on Saturday and raped the nun and took away Rs 12 lakh kept in an almirah.
"We expect three to four thousand people to attend the rally. In fact we have asked all the city parishes to join the rally," archbishop of Kolkata Thomas D'Souza told AFP.
"We also expect common people to participate and express their solidarity to the victim."
The archbishop stressed the rally was not aimed at condemning any political party over the attack, which comes amid concern in India's Christian community at a spate of recent attacks mostly on churches.
Priests and other Christian leaders have blamed those attacks on religious hardliners who have become emboldened since Prime Minister Narendra Modi swept to power at general elections last year.
D'Souza said hymns and prayers for the nun would be encouraged at the rally, which would culminate in a candlelit vigil on Monday evening.
The nun, who cannot be named for legal reasons, needed surgery from injuries suffered during the attack and is recovering in a hospital in Ranaghat.
The rapists apparently asked for the "senior-most" among the nuns at the convent school before picking the elderly sister superior and gangraping her, investigators said pointing to a revenge motive.
Officers of the state's criminal investigation department were exploring this angle after learning that the nuns were recently threatened by unidentified people.
"Who is the senior-most here?" the attackers said, according to a police officer who was quoting witnesses at the missionary-run school.
"We have come to know that the sisters were threatened some days ago and they had informed about it to police. At the same time, we were yet to understand why the culprits vandalised the institution apart from looting cash and raping an elderly nun," an officer said.
"After looting the money they forced a guard to call the sisters. As soon as a nun opened the door, they stormed in and demanded for the senior-most sister. As the principal and other sisters pointed to the oldest nun … she was taken to another room and raped."
Police were looking for a school guard, who was recently sacked, while 8 men have been detained and questioned. No arrests were made so far, even though the faces of some of the attackers were captured on CCTV footage.
The footage has also been circulated to the media and police stations across the state and a Rs 1 lakh reward was announced for information on them.
The incident adds to a grim record of sexual assaults in India. It comes amid raging debate over the banning of a documentary about a December 2012 gangrape in New Delhi that sparked national and international outrage.
The attack has also intensified fears among the Christian minority after a series of vandalism and arson attacks on institutions mostly in Delhi since December.
On Sunday, miscreants vandalised an under-construction church in Kaimri village in Haryana's Hisar district, 260km from Chandigarh, and replaced the cross with an idol of Lord Hanuman.
Police said 14 people were booked for rioting, damaging a place of worship, theft and promoting enmity following a complaint from the church priest. However, no arrests have been made so far.
The Haryana attack comes against the backdrop of Modi's assurance of ensuring religious freedom and pledge of a crackdown on religious violence, after a series of attacks on churches in the national capital.
Modi had been strongly criticised for not speaking out earlier, despite growing concern at the actions of Hindu hardliners including a spate of mass "re-conversions" of Christians and Muslims to Hinduism.
(With AFP inputs)
First Published: Mar 16, 2015 13:32 IST