Nun who was raped says local police refused to help

29 Oct 2008

By therecord

Nun says that police watched as she was raped and ignored her pleas for help.



A child surveys the damage after Hindu fanatics spent a week attacking Christians and Christian places of worship in August. Photo: UCAN

NEW DELHI (CNS) – The Orissa state government has decided to expedite the case of a Catholic nun who was raped during the recent anti-Christian violence in the eastern Indian state.
The move came after the nun spoke at a press conference Oct. 24 in the Jesuit-managed Indian Social Institute in New Delhi, reported the Asian church news agency UCA News.
The 28-year-old nun, who addressed the media with her face covered up to her eyes, was flanked by another nun and a female lawyer. Photographers kept aiming for her face, which she kept turned toward the ground.
She fought tears while reading a four-page handwritten statement recounting how Hindu fanatics attacked her. She said she had no faith in the Orissa police, whom she alleged refused to help her but aided her attackers.
A day after the nun met the press, Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik convened a meeting in the state capital and directed officials to speed up the case.
The nun was raped on August 25, the day after Hindu fanatics began weeks of sustained violence against Christians in Orissa in response to the murder of a Hindu leader. The violence left at least 58 people dead.
Radical Hindu groups in the media accused the nun of not cooperating and of hiding from the police. They also demanded that she marry her rapist.
The nun met the press three days after the Supreme Court rejected a church petition that sought to have the Central Bureau of Investigation, the premier federal investigation agency, investigate the rape.
The Supreme Court asked the nun to cooperate with the state police investigation after the Orissa government said in an affidavit that the investigation into the case was progressing and that police already had arrested eight people.
Speaking to the media, the nun recalled: “They threw me to the veranda on the way to the dining room, which was full of ashes and broken glass pieces. One of them tore my blouse and others my undergarments.”
She paused, sobbed and wiped her tears before continuing to read, “They pulled out my sari and one of them stepped on my right hand and another on my left hand and then a third person raped me.”
The nun said the police saw her being attacked and paraded half-naked but ignored her pleas for help.
The details of her story were supported by Father Thomas Chellen, who had fled with her when they were trying to escape the fanatics.
He told Catholic News Service that, when the two were dragged from their hiding place, it was like “our crucifixion parade,” and corroborated her story, including details of police inaction.