With no arrests made even after two days of the gangrape of a septuagenarian nun at Ranaghat, protests erupted at several places with some demonstrators blocking Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s convoy for nearly an hour when she went to meet the victim.
Two more persons were detained today to take the total of detainees to 10 since yesterday, police said.
Banerjee, whose convoy was blocked on NH 34 by the protesters demanding immediate arrest and punishment of the culprits, claimed that the protest was a conspiracy hatched by CPI-M and BJP to stop police from taking action against the real culprits.
Archbishop of Kolkata Thomas D’Souza expressed his unhappiness over the ongoing probe into the incident.
The Archbishop, who participated in a rally in the city from Allen Park in Park Street to show solidarity and sympathy with the victim, said, “The detention of eight persons was a very bright start. But we are not happy yet because not much headway has been made in this regard.”
“It’s good to see that they are working, but 48 hours have passed, so where are the arrests?” the Archbishop wondered.
Banerjee, who arrived at Ranaghat to meet the victim at the hospital and also officials of the Church and the school, where the incident took place, faced sudden protest by students and local people who surrounded her convoy and squatted on the road.
As the protesters refused to let her convoy pass through the NH 34, an angry Banerjee came out of the car and said, “The unfortunate incident is being maligned by using political colour in it. This is a conspiracy and a handiwork of CPI(M) and BJP combine to stop the administration from arresting the real culprits. In the name of rally and protest, some political people have made inroads here. They don’t want real culprits to be arrested. Missionaries are for peace. Don’t malign the movement of the missionaries.”
“I am waiting here, let me see what guts CPI(M) and BJP have, I challenge them. Let me see how long they can stop me by gheraoing my convoy. I am not afraid of them. I challenge the CPI(M) and BJP. I have come up through mass movements. Let them come if they want to kill me. I always want the rapists to be hanged. Those who are culprits have committed a wrong and we will take strongest action against them,” she said. Nadia district superintendent of police Arnab Ghosh said that 10 people were detained in connection with the gangrape and that seven to eight persons were involved in the crime.
He said that it was now being ascertained whether those detained tallied with the persons caught on the CCTV camera installed at the convent school and their antecedents were being checked.
The CCTV footage at the convent had shown four persons who were allegedly involved in the crime. The SP had announced a reward of Rs one lakh to any individual providing credible information leading to the arrest of the accused.
The SP said that searches were still being conducted to find those participating in the crime adding “details of the police investigation cannot be given for the sake of investigation.”
The CID, which has been entrusted with looking into the investigation into the crime, is planning to fan out to other states in search of the culprits, an official said on condition of anonymity.
Meanwhile, the Home Ministry in a communication to the West Bengal government asked it to submit a detailed report about the incident, whether there was enough security at the convent and the steps taken to prevent such incidents in future.
Senior police officials including DGP G M P Reddy, and district police officials were caught completely off guard as the hundreds of students and locals gheraoed the convoy of Banerjee accusing the police of inaction and demanding immediate arrest.
The students carried placards, which read “we want justice” and “hang the rapists”, and kept on shouting as police officials and senior officials of the administration were busy pacifying the angry protesters.
Officials were seen pleading with the protesters with folded hands, but to deaf ears.
After meeting the victim at the Ranaghat hospital, Banerjee said she believed that the culprits should be hanged.
“We will take strong action against the culprits. I believe the culprits should be hanged.I went to visit the Sister. She is now stable. I have also talked with the Archbishop”, she said.
“Two other Sisters have also been injured. I have met them. They are now keeping better”, she said.
She walked on foot to the hospital to meet 71-year-old nun, the survivor of the horrific incident.Before leaving for Ranaghat, Banerjee told reporters at the state secretariat that strongest action would be taken against the perpetrators of the crime.
“People who commit such crimes are not humans… Our sentiments are with the victim, who is like our mother. The culprits are a disgrace to society,” she said.
Thousands of people participated in a rally in Kolkata organised by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Calcutta to protest against the incident.
Reiterating the Bishop’s words, Right Reverend Ashoke Biswas, the bishop of Calcutta Diocese, said, “It’s a shameful thing for us… for the Bengali society. It’s good that they (the administration, police) are working. We are thankful to them.”
Students of several schools in Nadia district too took out rallies demanding a fast investigation of the incident.