Nun gangrape: No arrests yet, governor seeks public help to nab culprits

Kolkata: With the police yet to make any arrest - despite detaining eight people for questioning - in the horrendous gangrape of a septuagenarian nun at a West Bengal convent, Governor K.N. Tripathi sought public help on Sunday to nab the culprits even as Christian organisations announced a solidarity rally here.

Promising strict action with regard to the horrifying incident in Nadia district in the early hours of Saturday that has caused revulsion in the state and beyond, Tripathi said the culprits would be apprehended and arrested. "The state government will take strict action in this matter," Tripathi told the media. "The administration will surely apprehend the culprits and punish them.

This closed circuit television image captured on March 14, 2015 at the Convent of Jesus and Mary in Ranaghat, 70 kilometres north of Kolkata, and released by West Bengal Police shows two suspects in the gang-rape of a 71-year-old nun at the convent. Pic/ AFP

I feel the people should also come forward to help nab the culprits." The nun was brutalised by a gang of bandits inside the Convent of Jesus and Mary in Ranaghat, some 80 km from Kolkata, early Saturday. District police superintendent Arnab Ghosh said eight people have been detained -- but no one has been arrested so far.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has handed over the case to the Criminal investigation Department, whose personnel visited the spot during the day. Police have already released snapshots of the culprits and announced a reward of Rs.1 lakh for providing information about the perpetrators.

The state women's commission alleged that the police did not act even though the convent had been receiving threats from some quarters. Commission chairperson Sunanda Mukherjee on Sunday visited the convent and met the survivor who is undergoing treatment at a hospital.

"In November last year, a student of the school was suspended on disciplinary ground following which some of the teachers received threats. The matter was reported to the sub divisional officer," said Mukherjee. "A week back some miscreants entered the school and threatened one of the sisters saying 'I will kill you'.

A police complaint in this regard was promptly lodged but no action was taken. There is no doubt about police inaction in this matter too," said Mukherjee. She said the commission was looking into the matter and would recommend steps against police officers found guilty of dereliction of duty. Meanwhile, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Calcutta announced it would take out a march in Kolkata on Monday to express solidarity with the survivor.

"We want to create awareness in the society on the importance of non-violence and respect for women," Archbishop of Kolkata Thomas D'Souza said. The incident, as usual, triggered a political blame game. The opposition Left Front wondered if the Banerjee led government was trying to hush up the mater. "Whenever the chief minister wants to hush up a matter she summons the CID," said Leader of opposition in the state assembly and CPI-M state secretary Surjya Kanta Mishra, who visited the convent during the day.

"The administration has assured to catch the culprits within 48 hours, we will wait till then. If the administration fails to act, then the administration and the chief minister will be responsible for the resultant protests and agitations," threatened Mishra. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) condemned the incident but warned against giving it a religious colour.

"All civilised societies should condemn such an incident. But attempts should not be made to use such incidents to create tensions between communities by giving it a religious colour," RSS general secretary Suresh Bhaiyyaji Joshi said in Nagpur. Actress-turned-politician and BJP leader Locket Chatterjee, who led a delegation to the convent, expressed displeasure over the matter getting politicised.

"This is a heinous act deserving strong condemnation but it should not be politicised," said Chatterjee in an apparent reference to Trinamool Congress joint secretary Frihad Hakim's comments on Saturday. Hakim, also Urban Development Minister, said: "A religious fanaticism has been created in the country. Different churches are being attacked at various places. In the name of 'Ghar Wapsi', people are being religiously provoked."

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