Indian Investigation Bureau to Probe West Bengal Nun-Rape Case

By Sahana Ghosh

2015-03-19
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IN-Mamata-rape-620-March2015 West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee travels to visit a nun who was allegedly raped, March 16, 2015.
AFP

The suspects remain at-large five days after news broke of the alleged rape of an elderly Indian nun during a break-in at a convent in West Bengal.

An intense manhunt by state police has yielded no arrests, and, on Wednesday, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announced that her administration was handing the case off to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

“Police are making their best efforts,” Banerjee said on Twitter, according to Agence France-Presse.

“(But) considering the seriousness and sensitivity of the case, I have decided to entrust the investigation of the case to CBI.”

The West Bengal government feared that the suspects may have escaped to another state or even abroad, Firhad Hakim, a minister in the state’s ruling Trinamool Congress party, told reporters.

Under pressure

Since word got out about the nun’s alleged rape during an early Saturday morning burglary at the Convent of Jesus and Mary in Ranaghat town – some 70 kilometres (43 miles) from Kolkata – the state government and police force have faced growing public anger. They are being criticized for failing to catch the gang of suspects, whose faces were captured on closed-circuit television. 

The Roman Catholic Church in India is demanding that the authorities bring the perpetrators to justice speedily. On Wednesday, Cardinal Baselios Cleemis, visited the nun at a hospital in Ranaghat and met with the chief minister.

"I would like to request the authorities to ensure justice is done," AFP quoted Cleemis as saying in Ranaghat.

"I understand that the process has begun ... but I'd like to request the chief minister to adopt a faster approach and ensure justice is meted out at the earliest," he added.

The West Bengal police believe that the intruders’ motive was burglary and not a hate-crime targeting members of India’s Christian minority, local media reported.

Officers also say that only one person sexually assaulted the nun, AFP reported.

Commenting on the inability of the police to catch any suspects to date, retired Director General of West Bengal Police Amiya Samanta told BenarNews that, at its discretion, the force could have sent detectives out of state to investigate the case.
“It is the failure of the state police that it has to call the central forces, even when camera images of the assailants are available,” Samanta said.

A growing problem

Meanwhile, others criticized Banerjee’s administration, which has been in power since 2011, for not doing enough to deal with reports of rapes increasing statewide.

“It is a total failure of the law and order situation in the state that the number of rape incidents is on the rise,” educator and social activist Miratun Nahar told BenarNews.

“We would like to believe that the chief minister has the good intentions of arresting the culprits, unlike in previous cases.”

Several rapes reported in West Bengal within the past few years remain unsolved.

The case of a female college student who was gang-raped and murdered in Kamduni, near the city of in Barasat, in June 2013 is among the more notorious ones.

Resentment against Banerjee also lingers over a gang-rape of another woman in Park Street in Central Kolkata three years ago. The chief minister angered people by describing it as a “made-up case.”

“The Ranaghat case has rekindled our memories of the horrific incident at Kamduni. Wait till the political parties break the morale of the protesters, like it did to us,” Tumpa Koyal, a villager from Kamduni villager told BenarNews.

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