Indian nun rape case: Police make first arrests

Image source, AFP PHOTO / West Bengal Police
Image caption,
Footage released by the police shows the convent being ransacked

Police investigating the rape of an elderly nun in the Indian state of West Bengal have made their first arrests, more than 12 days after the crime.

They say they are holding two men, after earlier detaining several others for questioning.

The incident caused outrage in India and led to street protests in many cities across the country.

Six alleged attackers were caught on CCTV as they burgled the convent before the 74-year-old woman was raped.

The images, from the Convent of Jesus and Mary, were released by police who offered a reward of 100,000 rupees ($1,500; £1,000) for any information.

Police in Kolkata (Calcutta), the capital of West Bengal, said one of the men they are holding was arrested in Mumbai and had been brought to Kolkata.

Senior police official Rajeev Kumar named him as Mohammad Salim Sheikh.

"On the basis of information provided by Sheikh, we arrested a second man, Gopal Sarkar," he told BBC Hindi.

Mr Kumar refused to say whether the men were among those caught on camera.

Image source, AFP
Image caption,
The students of the convent protested against the rape of the 74-year-old nun

The attackers ransacked the convent school in Ranaghat town on 14 March and stole money before raping the nun in the convent itself.

The men also stole money from the school, vandalised the chapel, broke open the tabernacle and took away the ciborium, the sacred vessel used during Mass.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed "deep concern" over the attack and Chief Minister of West Bengal Mamata Banerjee promised swift and strong action against those involved.

In recent months, there have been several attacks in India on churches and Christian institutions, leading to insecurity among the community.

But it is not clear whether the assault on the convent was sectarian.