India

Indians protest over rape of 74-year-old nun

Indian students hold a poster as they protest near the convent school where an elderly nun was raped in Ranaghat, 79 km north of Calcutta, India, 16 March 2015. Image copyright EPA
Image caption Concerns over rape in India are running high

Hundreds of people have held a silent demonstration to protest against the rape of an elderly nun in the Indian state of West Bengal.

Ten men have been detained in connection with the incident, which happened early on Saturday morning.

But none of them resemble the six alleged attackers who were caught on CCTV burgling the convent before the 74-year-old nun was raped.

The nun is being treated in a Kolkata (Calcutta) hospital.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption The students of the convent have joined the protests

Monday's protesters - ranging from schoolchildren to elderly people - held banners with slogans such as "Save Women" and "Save India".

Similar demonstrations have been reported in other parts of the country.

A BBC correspondent in Kolkata says the rape case and recent attacks on churches have made Indian Christians feel insecure, although it is not clear whether the assault on the convent was sectarian.

The attackers ransacked the convent school in Ranaghat and stole money before raping the nun in the convent itself.

The Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee, has promised swift and strong action against those involved. The special police service of the state, the CID, has taken over the investigation.

Christians prayed and lit candles during Monday's vigil.

'Shame and pain'

Kolkata Archbishop Thomas D'Souza said in a statement that it was important to ensure that "an inhuman act" like this should not take place again.

"It has brought a lot of shame and pain to all concerned".

Image copyright AFP PHOTO / West Bengal Police
Image caption Police have released images of the suspects and offered a reward for information

The police are investigating reports that the attack on the nun could have been an act of revenge.

The Calcutta Telegraph reports the convent had received threats after the recent expulsion of a pupil.

"The principal of the school called me up and sought police protection. After receiving the complaint over the phone, I took the initiative of sending policemen there. The policemen rushed there and dispersed the troublemakers," senior police official Rajarshi Mitra told the newspaper.

Father D'Souza said the assailants in Saturday's attack stole money from the school, vandalised the chapel, broke open the tabernacle and took away the ciborium - the sacred vessel used during Mass.

Christian groups have recently held protests in the capital, Delhi, saying they are being targeted and demanding better protection.

Some highlight a series of recent attacks by vandals on churches in the city.

Concerns over rape are particularly high in India at the moment after the government banned a BBC documentary earlier this month that featured an interview with an unapologetic rapist.

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