Nearly two weeks after the gang rape of a 71-year-old nun in West Bengal’s Nadia district sent shockwaves throughout the nation, the first arrest in the case was made from Mumbai yesterday. According to sources, the accused, a Bangladeshi immigrant, was an informer of the Mumbai Police and had helped them solve several cases.

A still from the CCTV footage showing three of the accused. Pics/PTI
A still from the CCTV footage showing three of the accused. Pics/PTI

Another arrest was made from West Bengal later in the day (see box). A team from the Crime Investigation Department (CID) of the West Bengal (WB) police reached Mumbai in the morning yesterday and, with the help of the Unit I of the Mumbai Crime Branch, picked up Mohammed Sikander Shaikh alias Salim (42), who lives in a slum in Reay Road.

Salim being produced in a court in West Bengal’s Nadia district yesterday
Salim being produced in a court in West Bengal’s Nadia district yesterday

“A senior police officer from the WB police was with our team and we picked up the accused Salim from the Nagpada area. He used to work as a loader in Bhaucha Dhakka,” said Dhananjay Kulkarni, spokesperson, Mumbai Police.

The police had got the CCTV footage of four of the eight accused in the gang rape and robbery case, and Salim’s arrest was made based on call detail records and other information, and also because his face closely resembles one of the men seen in the footage.

He was immediately flown to West Bengal, where the police got his custody for 14 days. “Salim used to travel from West Bengal to Mumbai very often, and was active in both the places. He was an informer of the Mumbai Police and had helped solve several cases,” said a police officer from the Crime Branch.

The incident
On March, 14, seven to eight people had entered a convent school in Ranaghat in Nadia district, around 80 kilometres from Kolkata. The accused were trying to flee with the cash kept in the school when the septuagenarian nun objected and was allegedly gang-raped in front of another nun.

The accused then fled with Rs 12 lakh. The incident shook up the country and protests were held in West Bengal. It was also taken up in Parliament. There was tremendous pressure on the WB police to make the arrests, and they had declared a reward of Rs 1 lakh for giving information of the accused as they suspected the accused might have fled to Bangladesh, where they are believed to hail from.