18/03/2015 9:09 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST

Christian Leaders Welcome CBI Probe Into Nun Gang Rape Case

Christian nuns pray as they hold a candle light vigil to condemn the gang rape of a nun at a Christian missionary school in eastern India outside the Sacred Heart cathedral in New Delhi, India, Monday, March 16, 2015. According to police a nun in her 70s was gang-raped by a group of bandits when she tried to prevent them from committing a robbery in the Convent of Jesus and Mary School in West Bengal state's Nadia district. The attack early Saturday is the latest crime to focus attention on the scourge of sexual violence in India. (AP Photo/Saurabh Das)

Catholic Bishop's Conference of India president, Cardinal Baselios Cleemis, on Wednesday expressed his delight and satisfaction over the West Bengal Government's move to hand over the probe into the 71-year-old nun gang-rape case to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

"The Chief Minister has ordered a CBI probe and we are happy, satisfied and we hope for the best. We are confident that everything will go positive in the state," ANI quoted him saying. Cardinal Cleemis arrived in Ranaghat, West Bengal on Wednesday to meet the nun.

Archbishop of Kolkata Thomas D'Souza too welcomed the West Bengal government's move to hand over the investigation to CBI.

"In a way we are happy that the government is taking steps to nab the culprits," D'Souza said.

He said he was, however, disappointed that the police have not yet been able to make any arrests.

"The results have not been positive so far and we are disappointed," the Archbishop said.

nun rape

Meanwhile the National Human Rights Commission on Wednesday issued a notice to the West Bengal government, PTI reported, taking suo motu cognizance of reports that a 71-year-old nun was gang raped inside a Convent in the state's Nadia district.

The commission has observed that the contents of the press report, if true, amount to serious violation of human rights of the victim. Accordingly, it has issued notices to the Chief Secretary and Director General of Police, West Bengal calling for reports in the matter within two weeks.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had earlier today decided to entrust the investigation of the case to the CBI.

"Ranaghat incident of 14 March, 2015 is a very serious matter. Police administration was instructed to take swift action to nab the culprits. Considering the seriousness and sensitivity of the case, I have decided to entrust investigation of the case to CBI," Mamata tweeted.

"Our Government will provide all necessary co-operation and assistance to the CBI for investigation in this case. Police are making their best efforts. Considering the fact that the place is very close to border area I have decided to entrust case to CBI," she added.

Cardinal Cleemis' comments follow his statement on Tuesday that the country should be as concerned about the welfare of its people as it is about its cows. These comments, Reuters reported, appeared directed against hardline Hindu nationalists who have stirred up animosity against India's Christian and Muslim minorities, while successfully lobbying for tougher laws against killing cows.

Cows are considered sacred by many Indians, but beef is eaten by some poor and lower-caste Hindus as well as by Christians and Muslims. Campaigns to protect cattle are often used to vilify religious minorities.

"The country has a responsibility towards all of us - every human being - and not just cows," Cardinal Baselios Cleemis had told journalists.

Maharashtra banned the selling of beef in February and Haryana has imposed stringent penalties for cow slaughter.

Case History

On Saturday, around a dozen suspected dacoits entered the Convent of Jesus and Mary. The victim along with another nun tried to thwart the robbery attempt on the premises of the Convent. However, the dacoits tied up the other nun and raped the victim in front of her. They also made away with Rs 10-12 lakh in cash.

Read: Men Who Raped 71-Year-Old Nun Ate Chocolates And Pastries Afterwards

The incident has sparked widespread condemnation across the country, with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee assuring a thorough inquiry into the matter, while Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked for a report.

Fifteen persons have been detained in the case but no arrests have been made so far, PTI reported.

nun rape

District police have announced a reward of Rs. one lakh to any individual providing information leading to the arrest of the accused and a police team has been sent outside the state in connection with the investigation.

The attack was the most serious in a series of incidents that have spread fear among Christians since activists, emboldened by Modi's election victory last year, began their "ghar wapsi" (homecoming) campaign to convert followers of "foreign religions" to Hinduism.

Read: Bengal Nun Gangrape Case: No Arrests Yet; More People Detained

Indian Christians emphasise their religion's long history in India and say it is an integral part of the country. Some Hindu hardliners, however, are seeking to define the country as primarily an Hindu nation, in which other religions are guests.

The same weekend as the convent school was attacked, activists partly demolished a church being built in the state of Haryana, near Delhi, replacing its cross with a Hindu image.

A few days before the demolition, a member of parliament for Modi's Hindu nationalist ruling party, Subramanian Swamy, was criticised for saying that churches and mosques were not sacred buildings.

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