01/07/2017, 11.50
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Card. Gracias: acquittal of nun’s alleged rapists grave injustice

by Nirmala Carvalho

The two criminals accused of having drugged, bound and abused a nun in Chhattisgarh are released "for lack of evidence." Archbishop of Mumbai, "we will challenge the verdict on appeal." The limited percentage of convictions are a danger both for the victims and for society.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - The acquittal of the alleged rapists of a nun in Chhattisgarh "is a grave injustice, not only for our consecrated, but also for all women who have suffered a similar trauma” denounces Card. Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Mumbai and president of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences (FABC). He was commenting to AsiaNews on the release of the two criminals accused of having drugged, tied up and abused by a Catholic religious Raipur "for lack of evidence". "India's Catholic Church - adds the prelate - will demand justice from a higher court. We will challenge the verdict on appeal".

According to Card. Gracias, "this acquittal once again brings to our attention the problem of violence against women. It is a huge setback for all of us working for the rights and dignity of women, in particular victims of violence ".

On January 5, a court of Chhattisgarh released the 19 year old Dinesh Dhurv and 25 year old Jitendra Pathak because of lack of evidence. The archbishop of Mumbai believes that investigations were compromised beyond repair by the "halfhearted attitude of the police," who failed to protect the crime scene and did not collect the traces of the attackers from the victim's body .

The terrible religious, now 48, who belongs to the Salesian Missionaries of Mary Immaculate (SMMI), courageously told her terrible story. Two masked men broke into her room at the medical center at around 1: 30 am. When she asked them if they wanted money, they replied: "We want something more." At that point one of them blocked her, while the other forced her to ingest the drugs and gagged her with a rag. Then the attackers tied her to the bed with her sari and used a scarf to tie her hands, before taking turns to rape her.

The nun, originally from Kerala, was alone at the time of the attack. She was found the next day in an unconscious state by her superior, worried about not having received any reply to her calls.

The state representatives of Congress and the Chhattisgarh Christian Forum have called the incident a "systematic attack against minorities in the State". For its part, the Indian Bishops' Conference (CBCI) has reported  that such incidents raise serious questions about the safety and protection of minorities in India.

Since the beginning, the Christian leaders have complained about serious shortcomings in the conduct of investigations by the investigators, who had not collected blood, urine and other fluid samples to determine the hallucinogenic substance used to dope the missionary.

"Their acquittal - concludes the cardinal - will bring serious social consequences and could create problems of public order. The worrying fact is that low conviction rates inflict damage and represent a danger for the victims and for society as a whole. "

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See also
Chhattisgarh, two criminals accused of the rape of a Catholic nun acquitted
05/01/2017 09:49
National Commission for Women asks for 'immediate action' in the nun rape case in Kerala
07/02/2019 17:28
Chhattisgarh: serious shortcomings in the investigation into the rape of a Catholic nun
"We are optimistic," says Paul Bhatti as Rimsha Masih's bail hearing postponed to Friday
Raipur archbishop: Catholic schools on strike to protest nun’s rape


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