Indian coalition seeks general strike due to lack of action on nun's rape

(Photo: REUTERS / Stringer)India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi (R) speaks with cardinal George Alencherry at an event organized by the Christian community to celebrate the beatification of two Indians by Pope Francis late last year, in New Delhi February 17, 2015. Modi vowed on Tuesday to protect all religious groups, an apparent response to a series of attacks on Christian institutions in New Delhi fuelling concerns that minorities are being targeted by Hindu zealots

A coalition in India's Chhattisgarh state has called for a general strike on July 8 due to disgust over the snail-paced action by authorities investigating the brutal rape of a nun at a hospital.

Leaders from the Sanyukt Sangarsh Samiti, banded together after the rape of a nun on June 20, accused police of inaction after authorities said they had no clues to identify the perpetrators of the attack.

To signify dissatisfaction with the handling the incident, one group within the Sanyukt called for the closure of schools starting July 1, in series of protest actions.

The Communist Party of India (CPI Marxist) has pledged its support, to the groups dismayed at the lack of progress in the investigation.

"After closure of schools on July 1, we would call for state-wide massive protest on July 4 in each district," CPI Marxist leader Dharamraj Mahapatra told reporters June 29.

If no arrests are made, a general strike will be called July 13.

At least 45 organizations within the state rallied a coalition June 24 on behalf of the nun, whose rape shocked Indians.

Other coalition members include: All India Women Democratic Association, Student Federation of India, Insurance Union of Working Women, Raipur division, Democratic Youth Federation Of India, the state Christian Forum, United Trade Union Council of Raipur, and Nadi Ghati Morcha.

"We have come to know that police were acting laxly in the case and their investigation as the spot of crime hasn't been sealed yet," said Mahapatra who said the survivor's belongings were seized by the police.

He said there is no record maintained by the police of the exhibits seized, nor of medical tests done by doctors June 20 soon after the incident.

"All religious places should be provided with security personnel to prevent untoward incidents and maintain a fearless atmosphere in city," he noted.

A high-ranking Catholic Church official expressed dismay at the violent act against the nun, saying more programs are needed to uplift the dignity of women in the country.

"It is agonizing that various social forces breed misogyny and shape ideas about male dominance and the devaluation of women, which can normalize abusive behavior," said Cardinal Oswald Gracias, president of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conference in an interview with AsiaNews.

Gracias called for an end to "this discrimination and devaluation of girls and women, and usher in a enlightened era, where women can claim their rightful dignity."

The nun worked at a hospital in Raipur where she was found gagged and tied to her bed after being beat up and molested.

The attack came three months after a 71-year-old nun was gang-raped in Kolkata. Police have arrested migrant Bangladeshis, but church leaders seemed unconvinced about they were the real suspects.

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