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Bangladeshi held in Bengal nun rape case

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Kolkata: A Bangladeshi national, one of the prime accused in the rape of a septuagenarian nun inside a convent in West Bengal’s Nadia district, was arrested and sent to police custody on Thursday, police said.

Image Source: www.ndtv.com

The accused — identified as Nazrul Islam — was nabbed by sleuths of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) from Kolkata’s Sealdah railway station on Wednesday night.

“Islam, a 28-year-old resident of Jessore district in Bangladesh, was arrested on Wednesday night. He is a prime accused in the Ranaghat rape case,” CID Deputy Inspector General (Operations) Dilip Kumar Adak said.

During the day, he was presented before the court of additional chief judicial magistrate (Ranaghat) B.B. Mondal which sent him to 14 days police custody.

Police in May, had arrested two accused from the Sealdah station.

So far, six men have been arrested for the March 14 incident in which a gang stormed the Jesus and Mary Convent in Ranaghat in Nadia district and allegedly raped a 71-year-old nun.

The incident created a nationwide outrage with the Prime Minister’s Office as well as the National Human Rights Commission taking cognizance of the matter.

The survivor subsequently left the state for an undisclosed location. (IANS)

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Ranaghat Nun Rape Case : Bangladeshi Man Sentenced To Life Imprisonment for Raping Elderly Nun in 2015

As per the 2015 government data, 34,651 cases of rape were officially recorded. However, it is estimated that the true figure is much higher than this, given half of the cases go unreported.

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Ranaghat Nun Rape Case
Rape culture in India garnered more spotlight following the Nirbhaya-gang rape, after which the issue has continue to remain a burning topic in the country. Pixabay

Kolkata, November 8, 2017 : Cases of sexual assault are not new to the country. Sadly, the number of reported cases has witnessed a sharp rise in recent years. Countless insane reasons have been repeatedly cited to defend rapes that ranged from wearing short clothes, staying out till late hours, being over-friendly with men, among many others. But how do you justify the rape of an elderly nun? How do you justify rape at all?

Ranaghat nun rape case dates back to 2015. Two years after the incident, a court in Kolkata has now convicted and sentenced a Bangladeshi man to life imprisonment, for raping an elderly nun. The incident had taken place at a school in Ranaghat, West Bengal in 2015.

On March, 2015, five men had broken into the Convent of Jesus and Mary in Ranaghat with a motive to loot the church and vandalize the idols. Consequently, they attacked the oldest nun of the school, aged 71, who had tried to stop them.

On November 7, two years after the Ranaghat nun rape case, the City Sessions Court announced 28-year-old Nazrul Islam, a Bangladeshi man guilty of rape and attempted murder of the nun.

Previously, Islam had been arrested after the nun had identified him from a list of suspects.

Ranaghat Nun Rape Case: What Exactly Happened?

As per a report by PTI, Arnab Ghosh, a police superintendent in Ranaghat revealed that the men, all aged between 20 and 30, jumped the boundary of the co-ed school around 11:40 pm in March 13.

After disconnecting the telephone lines, the five men choked the security personnel on duty and entered the nuns’ room. Upon being stopped by the oldest nun of the school, they forced her into another room where she was raped.

The men then went on to steal cash, and other expensive materials that included a camera, mobile phone and laptop.

The men also attacked Convent of Jesus and Mary and vandalized and stole holy items.

Reactions To The 2015 Ranaghat Nun Rape Case

The nun was subjected to such brutal treatment that she had to be rushed to a hospital on March 14 where she underwent an operation.

The Ranaghat nun rape case sought intense reactions from the larger public. Hundreds of angry locals, priests and schoolgirls took to the state to protest against the incident – highways were blocked, shops were closed and candlelight marches were carried out as slogans demanding justice were raised.

Soon after the incident was reported, the West Bengal government ordered the Criminal Investigation Department to carry out investigations that made use of CCTV footage to arrest the five accused.

The five accused were arrested after three months.

Delayed But Deserved Verdict

A court in West Bengal on November 8 has now sentenced Nazrul Islam to life imprisonment for raping, and allegedly attempting to murder the aged nun.

The court also convicted his other five accomplices – Gopal Sarkar , Kumar Sarkar, Mohd Selim Sheikh, Ohidul Islam and Khaledar Rahman of robbery, and sentenced them to 10 years of imprisonment.

The verdict comes two years after the incident had taken place.

The delay in the verdict raises serious concerns on the security of women in the count.

Rape Culture in India?

As per the 2015 government data, 34,651 cases of rape were officially recorded. However, it is estimated that the true figure is much higher than this, given half of the cases go unreported.

Rape culture in India garnered more spotlight following the Nirbhaya-gang rape, after which the issue has continue to remain a burning topic in the country. Consequently, laws on sexual violence were strengthened.  However, the extents to which they are enforced remain questionable.

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Crimes Against Women Perpetrate in Every two Minutes: NCRB Analysis

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Crimes against women in India
Father, left and mother, center of the Indian student victim who was fatally gang raped on this day three years back on a moving bus in the Indian capital join others at a candle lit vigil in New Delhi, India, Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2015. VOA
  • Any kind of physical or mental harm towards women is deemed as  “crime against women”
  • Domestic violence is the most dominant crime against women
  • Andhra Pradesh state is the highest to report crimes against women in the period of ten years

Sep 20, 2017: A report released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) suggests that crimes against women have increased violently in the last ten years with an estimated figure of  2.24 million crimes. The figure is also suggestive of the fact: 26 crimes against women are reported every hour, or one complaint every two minutes, reports IndiaSpend analysis.

The most dominant crime against women with 909,713 cases reported in last decade was ‘cruelty by husbands and relatives’ under section 498‐A of Indian Penal Code (IPC).

‘Assault on women’ booked under section 354 of IPC is the second-most-reported crime against women with 470,556 crimes.

‘Kidnapping and abduction of women’ are the third-most-reported crime with 315,074 crimes, followed by ‘rape’ (243,051), ‘insult to modesty of women’ (104,151) and ‘dowry death’ (80,833).

The NCRB report also listed three heads, namely commit rape (4,234), abetment of suicide of women (3,734) and protection of women from domestic violence (426) under which cases of crime against women have been reported in 2014.

Andhra Pradesh has reported the most crimes against women (263,839) over the past 10 years.

Andhra Pradesh state is the highest (263,839) to report crimes against women in the period of ten years. Crimes reported for insult (35,733) ranks first followed by cruelty by husband relatives (117,458), assault on women with intent to outrage her modesty (51,376) and dowry-related deaths (5,364).

West Bengal (239,760) is second most crime against women state followed by Uttar Pradesh (236,456), Rajasthan (188,928) and Madhya Pradesh (175,593).

Abduction increased up to three folds over the recent years,  with Uttar Pradesh being the worst affected state. Cases rose from 15,750 cases in 2005 to 57,311 cases in 2014.

Prepared by Naina Mishra of Newsgram. Twitter @Nainamishr94


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This Durga Puja Brings Narratives of Communal Harmony

Durga puja is exemplifying communal harmony at a time when the world grapples with religious animosity and social polarisation

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Durga Puja
Durga Puja in at Bhopal Madhya Pradesh. Wikimedia

Kolkata, Sep 15, 2017: For over 200 years, the Nandi family in West Bengal’s Hooghly has been feeding Muslim fakirs during the Hindu festival of Durga Puja. To the Nandis, this annual ritual has its roots in a family legend that is testimony to the generosity of the local Muslim community.

It is also one of the myriad instances of the festival — the biggest in Bengal — exemplifying communal harmony at a time when the world grapples with religious animosity and social polarisation.

According to 80-year-old Satipati Nandi, the ninth-generation descendant of the family that claims to have been the “largest importer of betel nuts in eastern India once upon a time”, this Hindu-Muslim syncreticism comes naturally.

“It may sound as a big deal today but it all started centuries ago. It is said that two brothers, Kuber Shankar and Kama Shankar, were selling pakodas (fried snacks) in Halishahar in North 24-Parganas when they chanced upon a fakir who gave them a gold mohar (coin) to start an enterprise… revolving around the first thing they spot,” Nandi told IANS.

The rest is history.

The Nandis ventured into the betel nut business and eventually branched out into real estate, acquiring multiple properties across the state, including the present family residence at Pandua in Hooghly as well as land in Garia in south Kolkata.

Also Read: What makes Hindu Festival Durga Puja so popular in India? Know its Meaning and Significance 

“In remembrance of the generous fakir, we feed two fakirs on Navami (the ninth day of the festival). Now we usually do not find fakirs; so we offer khichdi to any two members of the Muslim community,” Nandi explained.

This communal integration has spilled on to the state capital Kolkata as well.

In the heart of Kolkata is Kumartuli — the potters’ enclave — which is in a state of frenzy with Durga Puja that is round the corner. The clay idols of Durga and her pantheon are being daubed in paint and their curves clothed in vibrant saris.

Their bald heads are carefully draped in jute wigs that have been painstakingly fashioned into braids and curly tresses for the Hindu goddess by Muslim craftsmen.

Neither blinding rain nor religion get in the way of business in this buzzing maze-like colony of potters and their assistants, labourers, decorators and tourists with selfie sticks — the point of origin of around 5,000 clay Durga idols each year.

Around 400 “shilpis” (craftsmen) churn out Durga and her children in crammed 6 by 10 foot studios, cloaked in tarpaulin sheets. The final touches, which begin around a fortnight before Mahalaya (September 19), include decking the idols in accessories.

“Draping the hair is an essential part of the process. The jute wigs are fashioned by Muslim families from Parbatipur near Howrah and other areas. A typical ‘sabeki’, or traditional idol, usually dons a curly and wavy wig. Essentially, they are mostly black but we do have variants of the wig in dark brown, rust and beige,” Babu Pal, a spokesperson for the potters, told IANS.

Slightly rough in texture, they are almost indistinguishable from your average wigs. Packed in bundles starting off at Rs 100, these are available as plaits, straight extensions for the sides or as wavy locks.

“Everyone comes to look at the idols. They admire, take pictures and go away. But it’s not just the idols… you have to assemble the goddess piece by piece. Muslim craftsmen usually fashion the dress material and the wigs. You may talk about cow politics and put a religious spin on it, for us it’s the way of life here… no one talks about this (Hindu-Muslim issues)… it’s business,” Pal elaborated.

According to Indologist Nrisingha Prasad Bhaduri, Hindu-Muslim integration during the Durga Puja was not uncommon in undivided Bengal.

“It has continued despite geographical barriers because the festival now is a huge industry. It provides employment to people from all communities. It’s only some politicians and communal-minded people who give it a different spin. During immersions too, everyone comes together to bid adieu to the goddess and family. She is looked at as a source of strength and not as a religious symbol,” Bhaduri added.

And you don’t have to look further than Begampur town in Hooghly district to see several Muslim families celebrating Durga Puja as a symbol of the common culture of the festival that unites Hindus with other minorities, at least in Bengal.

(This story is part of a special series that will showcase a diverse, plural and inclusive India and has been made possible by a collaboration between IANS and the Frank Islam Foundation. Sahana Ghosh can be contacted at sahana.g@ians.in)

-IANS