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74 Year Old Nun Raped At Ranaghat School During Robbery

2015-03-14 06:06


The residential building of Convent of Jesus and Mary in Ranaghat Picture by ABHI BABU GHOSH

The images of the miscreants caught on the CCTV. Picture courtesy CID

Ranaghat, March 14: In ashocking incident a 74-year-old nun, working as the ‘Mother Superior’ at a Roman Catholic school in Ranaghat was allegedly raped after an armed gang broke into the compound last night.

The blockade on the railway track by the locals. Picture by ABHI BABU GHOSHThe assailants, who were at least 8 in numbers, left with valuables from the chapel, located at the ground floor of the residential block and a cash amount of around Rs 7 lakh.

The shocking attack on the Convent of Jesus and Mary High School, a co-education institution at Don Bosco Para in Ranaghat, adjacent to the NH-34, which is affiliated ICSE board, took place sometime between 1.40am and 4.40am on Saturday.

This is the first incident in West Bengal where a nun had come under attack although in the past few years, at least three incidents of attack on church occurred in Nadia - in Chapra, Krishnagar and Habibpur.

The atrocity that angered the locals led to a blockade of railway tracks and NH34 for over four-and-a-half hours near the school.

Police has meanwhile started a manhunt after it got images of at least six suspects from the CCTV footage. The CID,Nadia SP Arnab Ghosh with top CID officers at the convent which took over the investigation on the instruction of chief minister Mamata Banerjee soon after the incident came to light, has announced a reward of Rs 1 lakh in cash for information on the attack.

Additional director-general of police (South Bengal) C.V. Murlidhar, additional director-general (CID) Rajeev Kumar and other senior officers visited the school today.

The assaulted nun, who hails Delhi, had joined the school last October from a school in Nigeria.

According to a cook who escorted her to Ranaghat sub divisional hospital early in the morning said, the elderly nun was found bleeding in a first-floor room in the residential block in the compound and was given four stitches to her private parts.

Chief minister Mamata Banerjee described incident as a "crime on the entire humanity".

DM Nadia speaking to a priestThe Archbishop of Calcutta, Thomas D'Souza, visited the school in Ranaghat. A shocked Archbishop said: "We could not imagine that such an incident could occur in Bengal. It should never happen in a civil society. I have doubts about the mindsets of the people who did it,".

The shocking attack, meanwhile, appeared to have rattled the state government, which is so far known as a protector of religious minorities' rights.

In an apparent attempt of saving face, the state government made a reference to ‘Ghar wapsi’ programme of the Sangh Parivar – the reconversion programme, behind the incident.

However, the Nadia police ruled out any such speculation.

Nadia Superintendant of Police Arnab Ghosh categorically said: “It is a clear case of robbery. The case is a very sensitive one. We are treating it with the utmost priority,"

School sources, however, complained the local police had failed to follow up on a demand for security, issued after a threat call last week to the school landline.

According to sources, Sister Shanti, the school principal, had received an anonymous call threatening her with tl_files/images/article_images/1412/20150314conventrape4.jpgconsequences unless she mend her way ".

“Some local youths had also recently came to the school and also threatened her after she taken disciplinary steps against an unruly student”, source added.

"Those who threatened were associated to a former student who had been expelled for sexually harassing a girl on the premises. The student and his parents had also threatened the principal”, alleged an insider of the school.

The police superintendant, however, declined comment on why the school had not been provided security, despite lodging a complaint at the Gangnapur police station after the threat.

Meanwhile, another probable reason behind the attack has surfaced out. School sources said that Sister Shanti hadSTUDENTS PROTESTING THE ATTACK dismissed three security guards in December for dereliction of duty. The police, looking into all these aspects, said an investigating officer of CID.

Sister Shanti, 52, and Sister Bijit, 45, both from Kerala, were in the same building as the victim. Sister Bijit said the robbers had forced the security guard, 52-year-old Jayanta Raj, to call the three nuns. All four were forced into one room in the block.

"They assaulted us, tied our hands and gagged us before ransacking the cupboards. When the elderly nun tried to resist, she was beaten up and dragged into another room. They locked us from outside," Sister Bijit said.

Students of the Ranaghat convent of Jesus and Mary raised demand for justice. Picture by ABHI GHOSHDon Bosco Para, is located in the heart of Ranaghat town, less than 500 metres from the railway station. The area accommodates 400 families, mostly Christians. A sizeable section of its residents have family members working in Arab countries. Adjoining Begopara too is a Christian-majority neighbourhood, with around 1,500 families.

Don Bosco Para's largely affluent residents regularly donate valuables to the chapel housed on the ground floor of the school residential block. "This might have attracted the robbers," a resident said.

Police sources said: "The attackers have information about the cash"

"The preliminary motive appears to be monetary gain," said the SP.

The investigating officer have meanwhile questioned the nuns and the nightguard. After watching CCTV footage, theImage of one of the miscreants inside the convent campus as caught on CCTV. Picture CID police said six men, aged between 20 and 30, had scaled the boundary wall around 1.40am and entered the school compound, which has separate office, school and residential buildings.

"At least two of the men were armed; the rest were carrying burglary tools. They overpowered the guard and attacked the office and residential buildings one after the other," an officer said.

In the chapel, holy scriptures were found torn, the monstrance and the host - the sacramental bread was broken and Mother Mary's crown stolen, a priest at the church said. A Christ bust too was found broken.

Sources said the 11 CCTVs in the compound had been installed for student safety last January following a demand from the guardians.

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