Taking the Narendra Modi-led BJP government head-on for the rising incidents of violence on the minority community, the Archbishop of Kolkata, Thomas D’Souza, on Monday expressed in clear terms his unhappiness over the ongoing probe into the alleged gangrape of an elderly nun at a convent school in Nadia district.
“The instances of violence on the minority community have gone up across the state since this new (BJP) government came to power at the Centre,” D’Souza, who participated in a rally in the city from Allen Park in Park Street to express solidarity and sympathy to the victim, said. The rally was organised by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Calcutta.
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D’Souza added: “Although the probe and the detention of some people is a welcome start, we are not happy because there hasn’t been much headway in this regard. We urge the government to arrest the culprits soon and ascertain the motives.” He, however, claimed that the “state administration and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee have taken “prompt steps” after the attack.
Ashok Biswas, Bishop, Calcutta, Church of North India, said referring to the victim as “the nun who had been raped”, should be stopped. “Instead, like Nirbhaya, we would like to name her Sister Mary because of her courage and resilience. She had forgiven the offenders and had also asked us to pray for everyone, including the robbers,” he said.
The attack on the convent school by a group of robbers on Friday in which the 71-year-old nun was allegedly gangraped has opened fresh debates on the security of members of the minority communities under the present central government’s rule. On Monday, as participants, including school children, gathered to attend the rally at Park Street in droves, concerns regarding the incident being part of a larger design held a common thread.
“I will not be surprised if investigations reveal that the motive of ‘ghar wapsi’ was behind it,” Maria Fernandez, vice chairperson of the state minority commission, said. She informed that a team will visit Ranaghat on Tuesday.
At the silent protest rally in Ranaghat, which saw area locals marching around sporting black badges, criticism of the state government was abound. “We are losing hope in the administration. They have missed their self-set deadline of 48 hours (to arrest the culprits). If we don’t see a result soon, we will put up a road block,” a local said.
Blame game among political parties continued unabated on Monday.
State Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim said that the incident of Ranaghat was “an indication of the rising communal force”.
State BJP president Rahul Sinha, on the other hand, alleged the involvement of the ruling party.
“The heinous crime had been committed by people who had the patronage of the TMC,” he said.
Earlier in the day, a team of Congress leaders, led by Md Shorab, visited Ranaghat. State Congress president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury and senior Congress leader Manas Bhuniya accompanied the team. “It is a huge shame for Bengal which is being viewed by the entire country as a rape capital,” Chowdhury said. Bhuniya said that the incident was “an attack on a mother and offenders should be given the strictest of punishment.”