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Nuns' rape an `isolated criminal act' - Hindustan Times

T.N.Nair ()
October 17, 1998

Title: Nuns' rape an `isolated criminal act'
Author: T.N.Nair
Date: October 17, 1998
Publication: Hindustan Times

Even as a massive rally, led by Archbishop Mar Jacob Thoomkuzhi, was
held in Thrissur on Wednesday to protest against the recent assault on
four nuns in the Jhabua district of Madhya Pradesh, a fact-finding team
sent by the CPI-M state committee has come back with the impression that
the attack was not planned by any political party or fundamentalist
group to intimidate missionaries.

Dr Scmstian Paul, MLA, who accompanied the team led by CPI-M central
committee member M.A. Baby, told newsmen here yesterday that the gang
rape should be seen more as an isolated criminal act rather than a
premeditated attempt to scare off the nuns from their social service in
the remote tribal area of Nawpada.

At the same time, to bring out the full facts of the nexus between the
liquor mafia, criminals and politicians, the delegation has sought a
judicial probe into the incident by a sitting judge of the High Court.

Before visiting the convent, Preethisharan, run by the `Mission Sisters
of Pondicherry', the delegation met M-P Government official as well as
Indore Bishop George Anathil and IG Pannalal. The police chief told the
delegation that 15 of the 22 members of the Bhil Tribals who committed
the crime have been arrested and cash and articles worth Rs.50,000
looted from the convent recovered from them. At least some of the
accused living in the vicinity of the convent were known to the nuns.

Classified as a `criminal' tribe for long, the Bhils have been known to
indulge in crimes with out any compunction. The attack on the nuns came
apparently because the gang failed in its attempt to commit a robbery
elsewhere. The attackers managed to gain entry into the convent by
asking for some medicine when the watchman was found missing. The nuns,
who were managing a school for 40 Bhil children and a medical facility,
are all below 25 and hail from Tamil Nadu.

The Thrissur rally came as the culmination of several such protest
marches taken out all over Kerala, where the accusing finger was pointed
not only at the VHP and RSS but the BJP-led Government at the Centre,
whose ascendence to power was somehow blamed for the attacks on
missionaries in states like MP and Gujarat. Echoes of this were also
heard at the public meeting in Thekkinkad Maidan, where protestors
converged.

The Archbishop said in his presidential address that the Jhabua incident
was not directed so much against Christians as those doing selfless
service in spreading literacy among the poor and underprivileged living
in remote areas of the country.

Protesting against the concerted attempts to put their party in the dock
over the Jhabua incident, BJP leaders have been pointing out that the
crime, sought to be suppressed by Congressmen, was brought out by local
BJP people.


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