A 2015 file image of Indian nuns taking part in a silent protest against a gang-rape of a nun in the eastern state of West Bengal, and attacks on churches in Pakistan and India, in New Delhi. More recently, police in central India on March 5 said they arrested a man wanted over the mass rape of four nuns in 1998. (Photo by Sajjad Hussain/AFP)
A man has been arrested for his alleged involvement in the mass rape of four Catholic nuns that occurred more than two decades ago in central India.
Police Superintendent Vineet Jain told ucanews.com that they arrested Kalu Limji on March 5 over his alleged involvement in the 1998 mass rape of nuns from the Foreign Missionary Sisters.
The nuns were aged between 20-30.
Jain said Limji is one of the 26 men who police sought over the rapes in what was described as a pre-dawn attack on a convent in the Jhabua area of Madhya Pradesh state.
Limji is one of two of the 26 who police still seek.
“One more of the 26 accused is still missing. We will get him very soon,” Jain said.
Limji has been produced before the court and was then taken to jail, Jain said.
The initial police investigation accused 26 people over the rapes within days of it occurring. A local court acquitted 13, while nine were handed life sentences.
Police said they heard Limji, 45, was visiting his former village. In response, police personnel, posing as government welfare officers, visited the village.
Limji’s friends were asked to see if he wanted to be part of a welfare scheme. He was asked to meet the officials which he did, and police arrested him on arrival.
Church officials of Jhabua Diocese said they appreciate the police’s vigilance despite decades passing since the crime.
“We are very happy that one of the two people absconding has been brought before the law, even if it is late,” said Father Rocky Shah, diocesan spokesperson.
Father Shah said it is imperative for social stability that people accused of such heinous crimes are effectively dealt with through the law.
Reports at the time said the attack on the convent in the tribal-dominated area was organized and that some 50 men participated. It purportedly started after some of them approached the convent demanding medicine, but the nuns were suspicious and refused to open the doors.
The attackers then forced their way into the convent and then took the nuns out into an open field where they gang-raped them. The men also ransacked a dispensary attached to convent and stole 25,000 rupees (US$588 then).
The nuns were from southern Tamil Nadu state and were unfamiliar with the area. They had recently moved to Jhabua from nearby Jhansi district.