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Indian Christians want justice for elderly nun's rape

Motive disputed as police claim the rape and attack on convent was part of a robbery

ucanews.com reporter, Kolkata

ucanews.com reporter, Kolkata

Published: December 27, 2016 05:04 PM GMT

Updated: December 26, 2016 04:37 AM GMT

Indian Christians want justice for elderly nun's rape

Indian nuns take part in a march protesting the rape of an elderly nun, organised on March 18, 2015 by an interreligious forum called State Forum of Minorities Organisation in Kolkata. (ucanews.com photo) 

(UCAN Series: Best of 2016)

More than a year after an elderly nun was raped, a court in eastern Indian Kolkata city has began hearing May 31 the case that state police insist was not one pertaining to anti-Christian violence.

"We want prayers from all of you" so that justice be done to the victim, said Sister Vincent Thomas, superior of Convent of Jesus and Mary School in West Bengal's Nadia district, where the attack took place. The school is run by the Religious of Jesus and Mary nuns.

A gang of at least five men broke into the convent and school in Ranaghat, some 80 kilometers northeast of state capital Kolkata and left the place hours after on March 14, 2015. 

Police said the gang looted cash and some other valuables from the school, apart from ransacking a convent chapel and raping the 71-year-old nun, the then sister superior of the convent.

The sexual assault on the nun was condemned across India and occurred during a time when Christians have been reporting attacks by Hindu fundamentalists from various parts of the country.

Within weeks of the incident, West Bengal police arrested a gang of six people. Media quoted police saying that one of the six men had confessed to having raped the nun.

"The assault on our sister superior that way left us all traumatized. We are eagerly waiting for the verdict in the case and we hope it will come through soon," said Sister Thomas adding that lawyers have told her court has scheduled three days to hear the case this week.

While police insist the attack was part of a robbery, West Bengal's Christian leaders suspect that right-wing Hindu activists had engineered the attack on the convent.

However, police insist that a group who believed there was a large sum of money stored in the school. "That's why they targeted the convent where the school was located," a police statement said.

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"Somehow, in a frenzy, an aggressive younger member of the gang ended up committing the rape…We are sure, all the culprits will be convicted in the court of law very soon," the statement said.

Herod Mullick, president of Bangiya Christiya Pariseba, a Kolkata-based body of Christian organizations, said that the case of rape and desecration of the chapel inside the convent did not appear to be the handiwork of regular robbers.

"I cannot figure out why a gang of regular robbers broke into a chapel and desecrated holy items when they knew that they could get nothing valuable from there," Mullick said.

"It's also mysterious why one of them targeted the 71-year-old nun," he said.

Published May 31, 2016

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