15/03/2015 12:34 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST

Arrests Made In Connection With Rape Of Elderly Nun

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. (AP Photo/Pranab Debnath)

Eight persons have been arrested in connection with the rape of a 71-year-old nun in the Nadia district of West Bengal, according reports. The elderly nun was assaulted when a band of robbers raided a Christian missionary school in Ranaghat town, around 80 kilometers from Kolkata, on Saturday morning.

The gang reportedly stole more than Rs. 8 lakhs from the Convent of Jesus and Mary, and they vandalised its chapel.

The horrific crime sparked protests in Ranaghat on Sunday. School students in Nadia demanded justice. "We don't want any political parties to come here. We just want justice. We are students and we have exams and these are sisters, our mothers, who have been abused. We don't want these things to ever happen again," said Brian D'Souza, a student who was protesting, ANI reported.

It isn't clear yet how many men entered the school. Local media reported between six to 12 bandits entered the convent in the early hours of Saturday morning. The robbers tied the school's security guards with ropes early Saturday and entered the nuns' room, where the women were sleeping. They took one of the nuns to another room when she tried to block their way and then raped her, AP reported.

It is also not clear how many men were involved in the rape. Initial reports said the nun had been gang-raped, but District Magistrate P B Selim told The Indian Express, “There was no gang-rape… one of the men is alleged to have raped one of the nuns.”

Chief Minister Mamta Banerjee has promised the "strongest action" against the culprits. "We strongly condemn the incident that took place at the Ranaghat Convent," she said. "We have ordered a CID probe. The agency will be examining all aspects of this horrific crime.

Faces of four bandits have been caught on CCTV.

“We will identify the accused as we have the CCTV footage stored with the convent. The guilty must be punished. Such incidents have never happened in the history of our state,” said Archbishop Thomas D’Souza, Archbishop of Kolkata.

India Today reported that State Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim termed it as an "attack on humanity" and also sought to link it to Sangh Parivar's 'Ghar Wapsi' programme."A religious fanaticism has been created in the country. Different churches are being attacked at various places. In the name of 'Ghar Wapsi', people are being religiously provoked," he said.

Archbishop D'Souza has also blamed a security lapse by the police for the crime. "The principal of the school, a nun, had received a threat call last week. Someone said she would be killed if she stepped out of the premises. She complained to the police and police should have given protection. They did not, apparently - that's what I am hearing - that she only filed a complaint and not an FIR," he said.

NDTV reported that the police were exploring several angles in its investigation - the school had fired three security guards for dereliction of duty in December, last year. School sources, the news channel reported, claimed the threat call was traced to a former student who was expelled for allegedly sexually harassing a classmate.

The elderly nun was hospitalised in a serious condition after the attack. Prayers were recited for her in several churches across India on Sunday. Sentiments of anger and sadness over the horrific crime was also expressed on social media.