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India: Attacks on Christians in West Bengal

Sunday 15 March 2015, by siawi3


71-yr-old nun raped, school chapel desecrated in West Bengal

hoto: Students of Convent of Jesus and Mary School participate in a protest against the gang rape of a nun in her 70s by a group of bandits when she tried to prevent them from robbing the Christian missionary school in Begopara, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) northeast of Kolkata, the capital of West Bengal state, Saturday, March 14, 2015. The nun was hospitalized in serious condition after the attack, which was committed by seven or eight men. The woman who was attacked is either 71 or 72 and is the oldest nun at the school, a police officer said. (Source: AP)

Written by Subrata Nagchowdhury | Kolkata | Updated: March 15, 2015 12:14 pm

A 71-year-old nun was allegedly raped and two other nuns were assaulted when a gang of about 12 armed men raided a Christian missionary school in Ranaghat, in Nadia district of West Bengal, in the early hours of Saturday. The gang is also alleged to have desecrated the school’s chapel. The elderly nun is reported to have sustained a knife injury also.
Though preliminary reports said the crime was committed by a gang of dacoits, top sources said “religious considerations†could not be ruled out. Sources said the school’s Sister Superior had sought police protection several times earlier following threats from anonymous callers.

The attack is reported to have lasted for over three hours, from 1:30 am to about 5 am.

READ MORE: Nun Rape Case: Trinamool, BJP pass the buck

According to sources, the gang first ransacked the school office before breaking into the convent. They reportedly tied up the three nuns and took the security guards into custody. Sources said when the 71-year-old nun tried to put up a fight and raise an alarm, one of the men allegedly raped her.
Another gang member reportedly targeted one of the younger nuns but spared her when she pleaded that she was suffering from acute asthma. The injured nuns have been admitted to health centres in Ranaghat.

While some reports said the nun had been gangraped, District Magistrate P B Selim told The Sunday Express: “There was no gangrape… one of the men is alleged to have raped one of the nuns.â€
The raid did not end there. Arch Bishop of Kolkata Thomas D’Souza, who rushed to the Ranaghat school this morning, said the gang also “desecrated†the chapel. “They removed the holy bread from the ciborium and threw it on the ground. Dacoits would not normally do this,†he said. “It is up to the police to investigate and find out the motive… why a dacoit gang should raid the chapel and desecrate it,†he said.
Some areas of the school had CCTV cameras. Although the gang targeted the cameras on their way out, police recovered some footage based on which two men were identified. Both these men have been detained.

Sources said a police patrol team was on night duty about 200 metres away from the school. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has ordered a CID inquiry and assured that “swift, strong action will be taken†.
Blaming the police, the Bangiya Christiya Parishad (state forum of all Christian denominations, east and northeast partner of All India Christian Council) said: “Sister Superior had repeatedly asked for police protection. The incident is not merely a case of ordinary robbery but a part of some greater conspiracy.â€
Significantly, Ranaghat — about 200 kilometres from Kolkata — has a large concentration of Bengali Christians, mostly converts from Hindusim. It has a fair number of missionary schools and churches. There are also pockets of BJP strongholds in and around Ranaghat.
The police are also looking into reports that the school authorities had sacked a security guard recently. A four-member CID team visited the site today.
Meanwhile, people blocked road and rail traffic in Ranaghat and other areas to protest against the incident today.