A sessions court in Kolkata on Tuesday pronounced a Bangladeshi man, Nazrul Islam Alias Naju, guilty of raping a septuagenarian nun during a robbery at a convent in Nadia’s Ranaghat in 2015.
Five other members of the seven-member gang have also been convicted. While four accused — Milan Kumar Sarkar, Ohidul Islam, Mohammad Salim Sheikh and Kholadar Rahaman — were convicted for robbery, one Gopal Sarkar was pronounced guilty for harbouring the accused.
All six accused have been convicted under Section 120B (criminal conspiracy), while five have also been held guilty under Section 395 (dacoity) of the IPC. One accused is still absconding. The verdict was delivered by Additional District and Sessions Judge Kumkum Sinha. The quantum of punishment will be announced on Wednesday.
On March 14, 2015, a 72-year-old nun at the Convent of Jesus and Mary at Ranaghat in Nadia had been “gangraped” by a group of robbers. The accused had decamped with cash and valuables worth Rs 6 lakh.
A case was registered at Gangapur police station the same day. Later, the investigation was handed over to the CID.
In June 2015, the agency had submitted its first chargesheet, followed by another in September.
Main accused Nazrul Islam, who has been convicted of rape, dacoity and criminal conspiracy, was arrested by the CID on June 17, 2015 from Sealdah railway station.
While the chargesheet had mentioned “gangrape”, the court concluded that it was a rape case, and that only one person — Nazrul — had raped the nun. A total of 42 witnesses were examined and cross-examined in the case.
“Along with rape, the court has convicted Islam under sections 376 (rape), 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty) and 354 A (sexual harassment), as well as under sections 120B and 395 of the IPC,” said government counsel Anindya Raut.
The trial had been shifted from a court of Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate in Nadia to the Kolkata sessions court, following a plea by the nun to the Calcutta High Court, according to PTI.
The nun had reportedly stated she feared for her safety as the accused allegedly had strong links in Ranaghat.
The case started from September 9, 2016, and arguments continued from June 17, 2017 till October 30, 2017.
Many residents of Ranaghat hailed the court for its order. Debasish Mondal, a local resident, told PTI he was happy with the conviction, and that he wanted exemplary punishment to be given to Islam.
Kakali Biswas, a teacher at the convent in Ranaghat, said: “Rapist (Islam) should be given death sentence, and the other robbers should be given life imprisonment.”