Mumbai (AsiaNews) - "The Ranagath attacks were beyond vile - not only did they heinously violate the Religious Sister, they desecrated the Chapel, the ciborium and the monstrance, this is evil", Card. Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Mumbai and president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CCBI), comments to AsiaNews on the gang rape of the 72-year old superior of the convent of the Religious of Jesus and Mary in West Bengal, on March 13. Yesterday, police arrested eight men, now under investigation for sexual assault.
Thanks to the CCTV cameras installed in the convent it has been possible to identify six of the eight suspects. Police have released images (see photo), offering a reward of 100 thousand rupees (about $ 1,500) to anyone who could give information.
Aranb Gosh, superintendent of the local police, said the robbery was well planned: "The footage shows the six men, aged between 20 and 30, climb the wall around at 23:40, enter the school and cut the phone lines".
The superior is in stable condition, recovering in a hospital in Calcutta.
"Over the past 19 years - Card. Gracias tells AsiaNews - this convent has been serving the people, and working for nation building and this is an exceedingly grave assault on women religious and is emblematic of gross immorality, deepest depravity." As chair of CCBI, next March 19 (Feast of St Joseph), the cardinal will celebrate a Mass of reparation for the religious.
On hearing of the attack, hundreds of students - and their parents and teachers - blocked the roads near the monastery for several hours, demanding police find the culprits.
Speaking to AsiaNews, Sajan George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), expresses "great shame for this brutal attack against a nun and the desecration of the chapel." In this situation "the apathy of the authorities in bringing to justice those radical elements allows religious violence to grow. Despicable atrocities such as the rape of a nun project a barbarian image of India from the moral standpoint, far removed from the development and growth of which we speak".
Created in 1818 by St. Claudine Thevenet to educate and serve the poor, the Religious of Jesus and Mary now operate in 28 countries on four continents. In addition to the high school of Ranagath (West Bengal), India's Congregation directs 13 schools. The College of New Delhi is considered one of the best in India.