India: Elderly nun asks God to forgive those who raped her

Christians have protested against an increase in attacks in Delhi.Reuters

The 71-year-old nun gang-raped at a convent school in India on Saturday has prayed for God to forgive her attackers.

According to The Times of India, the elderly woman – who is now recovering at the Ranaghat hospital – is most concerned about the security of the school rather than her own harrowing experience. Visitors have reported that she keeps repeating the phrase: "Dil mein dard hai (My heart is broken)", and has prayed that those who attacked her be forgiven.

"That's the greatness of a spiritual soul like her. But all of us want the miscreants behind such a heinous crime to be arrested and given exemplary punishment," said the mother of a child who attends the Convent of Jesus and Mary School in West Bengal.

A group of six intruders broke into the school in the early hours of Saturday morning, vandalising the chapel and stealing around £7,500. They tried up and gagged a security guard, before entering a room in which two nuns were sleeping. The victim tried to stop them attacking her fellow sister, and was then raped herself.

CCTV images captured the faces of some of the intruders, and ten men have now been detained in connection with the incident.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee of West Bengal state condemned the attack and said "swift, strongest action" would be taken to bring the perpetrators to justice.

The Archbishop of Calcutta, Thomas D'Souza, said that his churches were praying for the nun's quick recovery. He branded the incident a "heinous crime" and "an inhuman act".

"This is the first time such an attack has happened in India," he said. "It has brought a lot of shame and pain to all concerned".

Today, thousands of people are expected to take part in a silent procession in protest against the incident. "We want to create awareness in the society on the importance of non-violence and respect for women," D'Souza said.

The protest will follow a number of demonstrations in Delhi held by Christians who are demanding greater government protections. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been forced to address the issue after a wave of recent attacks on Christian institutions in the capital.

India is currently 21 on the World Watch List, which ranks the most difficult countries to be a Christian. There were more than 600 attacks on Christian and Muslim groups in the first 100 days of Modi's leadership.