West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday evening travelled to Ranaghat and met an elderly nun who was gang-raped at her convent school over the weekend.
However, the chief minister's convoy was blocked for almost an hour by angry crowds, demanding justice for the nun.
Ms Banerjee stepped out of her car to address the crowd and blamed the opposition. "I know political elements are in this crowd. They are ones who are doing this. I challenge the BJP and the CPM. How long will they block me? I am a person who has risen through agitations," she said.
The visibly angry chief minister also said, "Those who are protesting here...they don't want the real culprits to be arrested."
Her comments provoked angry reactions from the crowd.
Local priests and the police appealed to people to let the convoy pass as it remained stuck in the crowd that blocked it on National Highway 34 at Ranaghat. The convoy finally snaked out at 7:55 pm.
Ms Banerjee was supposed to visit Ranaghat tomorrow at 12.30 pm. But suddenly around 3 pm, she announced she was going today. And left her office.
At Ranaghat, she went to the hospital to meet the nun. She stepped out to tell the media, "The sister is doing well. Some arrests have been made but we are looking for the mastermind. The borders are being monitored and if they have gone to other states, we will make arrangements to catch them."
In Kolkata, the Archbishop Thomas D'Souza said at a solidarity meeting, "We are not happy. We appreciate the chief minister's efforts but the culprits must be arrested. That is yet to happen."
Speakers also dismissed rumours that the nun was in a critical condition. The Archbishop's office had apparently received hundreds of calls about the state of the nun's health after rumours spread.
In fact, Sister Amala, superior general of the order of the Daughters of St Ann, said, "I met the nun in the Ranaghat hospital this morning. She is doing well. She said she had forgotten the incident, she had forgiven the culprits. She wants all of us to pray for them as well for they knew not what they were doing."
However, not all were in a forgiving mood. Terence Mandle, who was at the solidarity meeting, said, "I hope the chief minister does not think this was also a 'sajano ghotona'." The chief minister had described the Park Street rape of 2012 as a "sajano ghotona" or fabricated incident.
"When the chief minister sent the CID (Criminal Investigation Department) to investigate, I was convinced there will be a cover up," Mr Mandle said, adding, "There should be a CBI probe."
Dr Mary D'Souza, also at the solidarity meet, said, "The sisters can forgive. It is very difficult for us ordinary women to feel like that. We want justice for the nun and an end to rape for all."