Two arrested in nun gang-rape case

Two arrested in nun gang-rape case

Taking the first step forward in the case of an elderly nun’s gang-rape and vandalism cases at a convent in Nadia district, the West Bengal Police arrested two persons on Thursday.

The breakthrough comes almost a fortnight after the incident, at a time when the CBI has refused to take up the case due to procedural inconsistencies on part of the state government. The septuagenarian nun was gang-raped on March 14.

The CID of the West Bengal Police arrested Muhammad Salim Sheikh from Nagpada in southern Mumbai and Gopal Haldar from Habra in North 24 Parganas and produced the two before the additional chief judicial magistrate’s court at Ranaghat in Nadia on Thursday, seeking custody.

While Salim is reported to have been part of the 12-member gang that looted the convent, Haldar was arrested for harbouring them. Both are reportedly Bangladeshi nationals and had immigrated to India around 2002.

“We arrested two persons namely Md Salim Sheikh, who is a resident of Mumbai and permanent resident of Bangladesh, along with Gopal Haldar, a resident of Habra in North 24 Parganas district. Both were produced before Ranaghat court today. We have prayed for CID custody of accused,” deputy inspector general of CID (Operations), Dilip Kumar Adak, told reporters.

The CCTV footage from inside the convent, which captured clear images of four of the men, helped the police identify Salim, he added.

Adak said that Haldar had harboured Salim and the other members of the gang before the incident, when they were scoping the convent and planning the attack. “The arrested accused (Salim) used to work in Mumbai and would shuttle between Mumbai and West Bengal. He was staying in a rented place and was arrested from here,” he said.

Although CID additional director general Rajeev Kumar confirmed Salim’s arrest earlier in the day, officials remained tight-lipped on details of the investigation.

According to sources, the CID nabbed Salim in a joint operation with Mumbai Police’s Crime Branch by tracking his cell phone. Officials pointed out that Kumar is known for his skills in using technology to track cell phones. “We’ll grill Salim extensively to get the entire picture and the motive behind the rape. We hope to apprehend the others soon now that Salim is in our hands,” a senior official said.

With Salim’s arrest, the CID feels confident that even if some of the culprits might have fled to Bangladesh, most are still in hiding in Bengal or neighbouring states. The police claimed to have already received some useful information about the others.

The incident of the 71-year-old nun’s gang rape on March 14 had sent shockwaves throughout the country. After recreating the event, the police surmised that around 12 men broke into the convent, after which they raped the elderly woman, looted Rs 12 lakh and vandalised an adjacent chapel.

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