People came together for a peace march in the city yesterday condemning the gangrape of a nun in West Bengal. The Mumbai Peace March, as it was called, began at Radio Club, Colaba, and ended at Fort Convent School, also known as the Convent of Jesus & Mary (CJM).

in SOLIDARITY: The march winds its way down Colaba on Saturday.
In solidarity: The march winds its way down Colaba on Saturday. Pic/Sayyed Sameer Abedi

The 71-year-old nun was gangraped on March 14 on the premises of the Convent of Jesus and Mary School at Ranaghat, West Bengal during a robbery. The police have so far failed to arrest the culprits.

The nun, who hails from Thiruvananthapuram, was formerly a teacher at the Convent of Jesus & Mary (CJM). Shama Noorani Choudhary, ex-CJM student who was taking part in Saturday’s march, said: “She was a teacher and she is as old as my mother. My blood boils when I see what is happening to women today, Mumbai used to be so safe, we could come home at 4 am alone. But, things are changing, and for the worse.”

Bishop Agnelo Gracias, who walked at the front of the march, said, “This is beyond religion. There are so many non-Catholics in this march. It is strange that they have CCTV footage but cannot trace the culprits.” Students from the batch of 1985 said the march is one of outrage. “This shows that nobody is safe in this country — not our daughters, mothers or even grandmothers,” one of them said.

Candles lit up the evening as the crowd entered the school ground. Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Mumbai, said: “My brothers and sisters, we are walking today with candles to pray for peace. At this moment, I personally feel sad, embarrassed, angry and ashamed. Too many incidents of this sort are being reported. I can hardly believe the disrespect for women and this is 2015. We want this to stop.”

Addressing the community specifically, he said the attack was, “an attack on the Christian faith and divisions on religious lines does not augur well for the country.” There was pin drop silence as he apologised to the nun, “I want to say I am sorry to her. India apologises to her.”

It was a moment of sobriety, shame and a call for introspection even within the mad whirl of commerce and traffic of the busy city.