Christians Outraged at WB Nun Gang-rape, Vandalism of Haryana Church

Published 17 March 2015  |  
Edwin Fernandes
File Photo of Christians who came out in large number in New Delhi protesting against a series of church attacks in the city in the past two months, on Thursday, February 5, 2015.

Christians in the country are outraged at the gangrape of a nun at Nadia, West Bengal and vandalism of a church in Hisar district of Haryana; and have demanded swift and appropriate action.

A 75-year-old nun, a Sister Superior of Convent of Jesus and Mary School at Gangnapur, Nadia district in West Bengal, some 80 km from northeast of Kolkata was gang-raped on Saturday, outraging the Christian community.

A CCTv installed at the premises show four people emerging from the scene. The West Bengal police has detained 10 people so far in connection with this heinous crime. But the main suspects have not been arrested according to the police.

Meanwhile, a church under construction at Kaimri village in Hisar district of Haryana was attacked and vandalised and the idol of a Hindu god was placed inside the premises.

Haryana police officials said they booked 14 people for rioting, damaging place of worship, theft and promoting emnity upon the FIR filed by the priest, Fr. Subhash Chand, the church minister.

According to Fr. Subhash, certain activists of the Bajrang Dal and others had threatened him earlier. He suspected that those same people could be behind the attack on the church.

"I was threatened by Bajrang Dal activists and other locals last month," Fr. Subhash said.

Some local residents in the village alleged that the pastor was trying to construct the church although there was no Christian in the entire village which is rubbished by the pastor. Reports among Christians emerged that there are a handful of Christians who need a proper place of worship. Hence the pastor had purchased the plot of land and has started constructing the church.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted, "PM is deeply concerned about the incidents in Hisar, Haryana and Nadia, West Bengal."

"PMO has asked for immediate report on facts & action taken regarding the incidents in Haryana & West Bengal," the PMO India twitter handle tweeted.

Christians held prayer vigils across the country on Monday to protest against the rape during an armed assault on a Bengal convent school, the worst in a series of incidents that followers of the faith say are making them feel unwelcome in their own country.

Mr. Julio Ribeiro, former Mumbai Commissioner felt BJP got its priority wrong. "We find there is no talk about jobs and development but about people wanting to reconvert. I think they have got their priorities all wrong," he said.

Meanwhile, the rape survivor, who is still in hospital, has appealed for peace. "The nun has said she has forgotten the incident, has forgiven the crime and has asked all to pray for the culprits," said another nun who visited her on Monday.

Christians alleged that after the BJP came to power in the centre, certain elements have continued to target Christian places of worship, and with BJP coming to power in Haryana since October 2014, these elements seem to have been emboldened.

Archbishop of Kolkata Thomas D'Souza on Monday expressed disappointment over the state government's failure to arrest the culprits in the Ranaghat nun rape. He was concerned that attacks on minorities had increased after the BJP government came to power in Delhi.

Responding to a question from a journalist, he said: "Yes, the number of attacks on minorities has increased after BJP came to power at the Centre." In the past seven-eight months, several churches have been attacked and desecrated in Delhi.

"We were happy when the CM reacted immediately to the incident. We were expecting some swift action. But what is the use of such assurance if its fallout is not the immediate arrest of the culprits?" he asked.

In the neighbouring state (Union Territory) of Delhi, there was five attacks on churches and one on a school, causing an outcry from the Christian community.

Mr. Herod Mulick, working president of United State Forum for all denominational Christians paid a visit to the convent on Sunday and said the crime was committed with a greater conspiracy.

"It's not a case of just rape and dacoity, rather the crime has been committed in pursuance of a greater conspiracy. The way minorities have been increasingly coming under attack, we feel there ie a need to probe the matter by an agency fit enough to unravel the conspiracy," he said.

"The chief minister (Mamata Banerjee) has done the right thing by calling the CID. But if the culprits are not arrested soon then we may look towards seeking a CBI probe," said Malick.

Earlier, the school authorities received threats but no action was taken, according to Mulick.

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