Stores and schools close following gang rape of elderly nun in India

Christians in New Delhi held a vigil in solidarity with the nun raped at a convent in West Bengal on Saturday.(Photo: Reuters)

A stunned town in West Bengal state, India ordered the closure of businesses and schools following the gang rape of an elderly nun on Friday.

Protests have followed the brutal crime after 10 people were questioned by police but not arrested.

The attack occurred near Ranaghat when eight assailants broke into a convent and ransacked the place. A 71-year-old nun was gang raped and required surgery, according to The Times of India.

The assault follows several attacks on churches in the country, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been criticised for what some feel is a soft stance against religious violence. The police have also been criticised for inefficiencies in solving cases of sexual assault, and the gang rape was referred to India's Central Bureau of Investigation after local law enforcement failed to make an arrest.

Prayer rallies and demonstrations have been held across India following the assault, and local business association spokesman Samiran Paul said the organisation stands in solidarity with the nun.

"We have called for the shutdown of businesses and shops in this town to support the nun... and the immediate arrest of the culprits," he told AFP. "We can't imagine such inhuman torture on an elderly nun who devoted her life to the service of humanity. It's a shame to us."

A teacher, Sriparna Dutta, confirmed that all government schools were closed as well. "We are all so shocked," the instructor said.

Police superintendent Arnab Ghosh said that increased patrols would be conducted during the business and education freeze "in the town and its outskirts to avert any untoward incident during the shutdown".

The Crime Investigation Department offered a reward of Rs one lakh (£1,100, $1,600) for information on the attack.