Kolkata, March 26 (IANS): In its first major breakthrough, West Bengal Police on Thursday arrested two people in connection with the March 14 gang-rape of a nun inside a convent in Ranaghat, an officer said.
A Criminal Investigation Department (CID) team of the state police nabbed a Bangladeshi man, Mohammed Salim Sheikh, from a Mumbai slum in the early hours with the help of the Mumbai crime branch.
CID Deputy Inspector General (operations) Dilip Kumar Adak told reporters here that another person Gopal Sarkar has been arrested from Habra in North 24 Parganas district for harbouring the gang of bandits, who committed the crime inside the convent.
The 71-year-old sister superior of the Convent of Jesus and Mary was brutalised by the dacoits in Nadia disrtict’s Ranaghat, some 80 km from Kolkata.
In the aftermath of the incident, police had circulated through the media images of the suspects captured on the CCTV cameras installed in the convent. But Adak said Sheikh was not among the suspects whose image was captured on CCTV.
“We can know more details about his role after interrogation. He has admitted he was involved in the crime. I can’t give you more information now,” he said.
Following a tip-off, a team of CID officers, led by Deputy Superintendent of Police Pinaki Ranjan Das, had gone to Mumbai on Wednesday.
They conducted a joint raid with the Mumbai Crime branch and caught Sheikh from a house in Pilkhana Street of Mahila Mahal Jhoparpatty (slum) in south Mumbai.
He has been brought to the state and was presented in the Ranaghat Court on Thursday.
He said acting on another piece of information, a CID team led by DSP Anik Sarkar picked up Sarkar from Habra and arrested him after sustained grilling. He would be produced in court on Friday.
Sarkar, who had allegedly sheltered the miscreants before they committed the crime, came to India illegally from Bangladesh in 2002 and has been staying in Habra since then.
“He has been staying illegally there since 2002. Sarkar gave shelter to the miscreants prior to the incident,” said Adak.
Asked whether he was also present at the scene of the crime, the CID officer said: “So far we have got information that he only gave shelter to the miscreants.”
To repeated queries about the total number of criminals who raided the convent on March 14 and whether police have got leads about the criminals still at large, Adak said: “We can get details about the other miscreants only after intense grilling of the accused.”
The miscreants had vandalised the convent between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m. on March 14. “They looted the convent and also raped the nun.”
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had ordered a CID inquiry soon after the incident.
But the sleuths’ inability to make much headway and the consequent public backlash had forced Banerjee on March 18 to announce through a Facebook post that the case was being handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation.
However, the central agency is yet to formally take over.
After her discharge from the Ranaghat sub-divisional hospital on Friday last week, the rape survivor subsequently left the state for an undisclosed location prompting the opposition parties to call it an “embarrassment” for Banerjee and her ruling Trinamool Congress.
Besides the NCW, the Prime Minister’s Office as well as the National Human Rights Commission have also taken cognisance of the matter and sought a detailed report from the Banerjee government.