Nuns welcome life imprisonment for rapist in India

Justice has been meted out and the culprits have been punished, said superior general of the Jesus and Mary congregation
Nuns welcome life imprisonment for rapist in India

Muslims demanding justice for a nun raped in 2015 in this file photo. A court in Kolkata Nov. 8 handed down life imprisonment to a man convicted of raping the 71-year-old nun in Ranaghat, West Bengal state. (Photo by Umarah Jamali)

The head of the Religious of Jesus and Mary congregation has welcomed a Nov. 8 court decision to sentence a man to life imprisonment for the rape and attempted murder of a 71-year-old member in eastern India.

It is a "red letter day" because "justice has been meted out and the culprits have been punished," Sister Monica Joseph, superior general of the congregation, said during a press conference hours after a local court in Kolkata announced the punishment.

Nazrul Islam, a 30-year-old Bangladeshi national, will spend the rest of his life in jail. He was convicted on Nov. 7 of raping the nun in the convent of Jesus and Mary School on March 14, 2015 in Ranaghat, some 30 kilometers from the India-Bangladesh border.

Five of Islam's accomplices, all Bangladeshi, were given jail terms ranging from 7 to 10 years for their roles in the robbery of the convent and school run by the nuns.

Those convicted have also been ordered to pay fines, with half of the collected 160,000 rupees (US$2,500), including 50,000 rupees from Islam, being given to the nun who has not been named for legal reasons.

Judge Kumkum Sinha said that what happened to the senior nun is a blot on Bengal's legacy.

The judge also said that Bengal is also the land of Irish-Hindu social worker Sister Nivedita and St. Mother Theresa.

Attacking the virginity of an elderly nun "cannot be pardoned," said the judge. "Even Jesus Christ would have declined to pardon him. He deserves the highest punishment," she said.

Rome-based Sister Joseph said the nuns are "thankful to the police and the chief minister of Bengal for fast-tracking the trial and bringing the criminals to justice."

Sister Joseph returned to India for the verdict.

Local Christians welcomed the punishment.

"The attack on the nun was inhuman and intolerable. The man who attacked the sister should have no place in our society," Minoti Mondal, who in 2015 took part in a demonstration seeking justice for the nun, told

The case made headlines, creating a national uproar and widespread protests from Christians and other religious communities across the country wanting the crime to be quickly addressed.

Church people see the verdict as being relatively fast. India records thousands of rapes each year. In 2016, there were 34,561 cases, according to official documents. Most cases drag on in the courts for years.

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