Odisha: Christian Minors Raped & Blameless Christians in Prison

December 20, 2012 by  
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Odisha: Two Minor Dalit Christian Girls Raped

Christian Minors Raped & Blameless Christians in PrisonOdisha , December 19, 2012:  Fr. Ajoya Singho sends us this report by a social worker Divya Raphael… Read on in her own words: I would like to bring to your notice of 2 cases of minor girl children aged 5 years and 13 years, who were sexually assaulted belonging to  Dalit Christian group. The case was brought to the notice of Orissa Child Right Commission but their response was rather cold and they have not taken any visible action for the welfare of these children so far. When the incident occurred I had informed the Child-line of Bhubaneshwar and Phulbani, Kandhamal District; But they did not take any interest to safeguard the rights of these children.

We have also brought this case to the notice of Kandhamal Sub-Collector and Khordha collectorate but the intervention process is very very slow. The Balliguda Sub-Collector released Rs.5000/- for one of the victims, but that amount is very minimum for her future and holistic development. The local administration shows helplessness in putting them in Government run hostels as they are Dalit Christians, despite such facilities being available for other Dalit and Tribal students.

Child Rights are spoken at the National and International level, irrespective of their religions and ethnicity but the child abuse is growing in alarming rate in Orissa especially in Kandhamal district. If the juvenile justice system of Kandhamal does work properly, all these atrocities against poor innocent children could be prevented to some extent.

CASE-1:  A 13 yr old girl from Tiangia, G. Udayagiri block, Kandhamal district was raped as she was going to witness the Dusserah pooja on 24th October 2012, by 6 men (3 adults and 3 minors). Since the victim and parents were so traumatized and frightened they did not lodge complaints in police station in Kandhamal district. The parents are also daily wage earners based in Bhubaneshwar. The parents initially approached the Child Right Commission but their response was rather indifferent. Eventually the case is registered by women police station in Bhubaneswar. She was under trauma after the incident, she looked stunt and emotionless. Her mental health has been affected badly after undergoing this traumatic experience. She could not even express her feelings. She was sent for counseling therapy and it helped her to express herself to some extent. She was given preliminary psycho-therapy assistance to the child. The child stopped schooling after the incident. She’s been denied of her right to education because she was not feeling comfortable to go back to her school to continue her education. Even her parents were scared to allow her to continue her education in the same school. The home environment in Bhubaneshwar colony is also not safe for the girl as the parents are daily wage earners and go to work daily leaving the girl alone at home. She is in confused state. She is yet to receive any financial assistance for her education and enhancement of her psycho-social development.

CASE-2: A 5 year old girl from Sarangada, K.Nuagam was sexually assaulted by an alleged minor boy aged 16 years on 14th November 2012. The case is registered by Sarangadu police. The family filed the complaint in the police station and case was registered. Since the boy is alleged to be minor, he is not behind the bars. At present he is with his uncle at Daringbadi. The police had taken the child (the victim) for medical examination. After a follow up the Sub-Collector has released a very minimum of Rs.5000/-  (Rupees Five thousand only). This is very meager amount for further education and holistic development. The sub-collector told the parents that she could not be put into any hostel meant for triabl and dalit in the district as she belongs to dalit Christian community.

Since they have undergone a lot of traumatic experience they need to be based in safe environment in order to enhance their psycho-social development. They have discontinued their education and would need to be admitted elsewhere to continue their education. But the administration has denied to admit these girls in the government hostels only because they are Dalit Christians. Both these families are very poor and they cannot afford to pay the hostel fees of private run hostels and schools.

The concerns of the girls and their parents are:

1.      Getting justice for the child victim and follow up the case speedily; find out whether the alleged perpetrators are minors

2.      Immediate financial Assistance to continue her education in safe and secured environment as the parents are daily wage earners and cannot afford to bear the expenses of education

3.      Support for psychotherapy and holistic plan till she completes her childhood and studies and provide assistance with regard to that

You may kindly look into this area of action and do the needful to safeguard the rights of these children and to enhance the best interest of the children.

– divya raphael & fr. ajoy singho

Four innocent Christians still in prison after four years

Charged in the murder of Laxamananda Saraswati, which set of the 2008 anti-Christian pogroms, the men are innocent. Even though Maoists have always claimed responsibility, police arrested them in the middle of the night on the basis of false evidence. For a Christian leader, their trial is a travesty of justice that threatens the victims and lets the guilty go.

Hindu leader Laxamananda Saraswati  Seven Christians accused in the murder of Hindu leader Laxamananda Saraswati are still in prison. The latter’s death sparked a violent anti-Christian pogrom in Orissa in 2008. Although Maoist took responsibility for the assassination, the seven men are still languishing behind bars four years after the event, victims of phoney trials, delays, absent judges and the inability to testify to their innocence. For Sajan George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), the seven Christians are victims of a travesty of justice in which they and witnesses are threatened and the guilty go free.
Their condition is getting more critical by the day. According to Br K.J Markose, a Monfort religious who is also their attorney, they have had seven hearings cancelled in the past 60 days. He told AsiaNews that the judge is not showing up for the trial, forcing them to go back to prison each time. This happened on Monday, when a hearing was scheduled. The next hearing is set for next Friday.

By law, “their trial should be over,” Br Markose said. Their case was moved to a Fast Track Court in Phulbani. Because of the delay, the state high court began another trial, which should have ended in September with a sentence within two months. However, nothing has been done yet.

In order to raise awareness about the seven Christians, Br Markose provides a brief on each.

Bijay Kr Sunseth, son of Salai Sunseth. Originally from Madhuguda (Kotagad). He and his wife Pabitra have six children, two sons (15 and 9) and four daughters (14, 10, 7 and 5). Because of the situation, the eldest has not been able to complete his mid-term exams. The children live in hostels paid by benefactors. The family belongs to the Baptist Church (Kandhamal Union). According the wife, Bijay was a community leader. On 13 December 2008, police summoned him to the station where he was arrested and taken to Rayagada. They claimed they captured him in the jungle.

Gornath Chalanseth, son of Bachan Chalanseth. Originally from Sartuli (Kotagad). He and his wife Ruta have an older married daughter and three sons. The oldest lives in Berhampur, where he is studying engineering and works part-time to support himself. The youngest are 12 and 9. According to his wife and brother Banga, police summoned Gornath for the first time in December 2008, and then sent him home. On the 13th of the month, they arrested him along with Bijay. In his case, they also claimed that they had captured him in the jungle.

Budhadeb Nayak, son of Muga Nayak. Originally from Kilangi (Kotagad). He and his wife Nilandri have three sons and two daughters. The two eldest sons are married, and one is Protestant clergyman in Chhattisgarh. The third is 7. His daughters are 8 and 7. According to his wife, police took him away in the middle of the night when he was asleep.

Bhaskar Sunamajhi, son of Budui Sunamajhi. Originally from Kutiguda (Kotagad). He and his wife Debaki have a son, 6, who does not go to school yet. Bhaskar was a village guard (working with police). Some 10 to 12 days before Christmas 2008, he was playing cards with friends when police told him to take money and clothing and go with them. Having done this before, Bhaskar had no qualms about doing it again. This time however, police took him away and charged him with murder.

Durjo Sunamajhi, son of Asin Sunamajhi. Originally from Budapada (Kotagad). He and his wife Gumili have three sons and due daughters. His older sons work whilst the 8-year-old goes to school. His daughters are 12 and 3 (the youngest one does not go to school yet). In October 2008, police stormed his home at night and took him away.

Munda Badmajhi, son of Dhanura Badmajhi. Originally from Duringpodi (Kotagad). He and his wife Bamdiguali have due sons and due daughters. The eldest son, 10, was in grade 4 when his father was arrested. He had to leave school to go to work. The youngest son is now 7 and a Christian clergyman is paying for his school fee. As in Durjo’s case, in October 2008 police took Munda away in the middle of the night. His wife tried to give a shawl but was turned away.

Sanatan Badmajhi, son of BaldoBadmajhi. Originally from Madaguda (Kotagad). He and his wife Badusi have two sons and two daughters. The eldest daughter is 11 and attends a government school, followed by the two boys, 7 and 5, and a sister, 8. Police arrested him in Sanatan on 4 October 2008, and took him away when he was asleep.

– br. markose

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