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The Official Farce in Orissa Exposed

May 19, 2011 by  
Filed under lead story, Persecution

A Christian girl Nirupama's body found - www.persecution.in

A Christian girl Nirupama's body found - www.persecution.in

Church, Christian & Government Response Inadequate: There seems to be no let up in the violence in Orissa, infact the aftermath is worse. Please write to the chief minister at cmo@ori.nic.in, cmo@nic.in, cmo-ps@ori.nic.in, csori@ori.nic.in, indsec@ori.nic.in, hedsec@ori.nic.in with a copy to csfpost@gmail.com for The CSF to follow-up with it. Thousands of culprits being let-off, even sensitive cases like the nun’s rape case going nowhere & instances of brutality against women and children emerging, coupled with the Church & Christian response being grossly inadequate, should be cause for introspection & action. You need to consider this & tell us how to take Orissa Persecution forward.

  
The most recent shocking case of Ms. Nirupama Pradhan, who her father reported alleges was murdered by Hindutva radicals, after suspectedly being raped adds to the following injustice in the justice delivery system:
 
Mockery of Judicial Redressal
 
* Only 1 conviction for every 20 cases between August and October 2008. The many other cases are undocumented.
* Out of 3,232 criminal pleas filed, only 828 complaints were actually converted into First Information Reports ( FIRs ).
* Of these, only 327 went before a judge, ending in 167 acquittals and 86 convictions on minor charges. Another 90 cases are still pending.
* According to official figures, 1,597 suspects have been acquitted, a number that does not include the thousands who could not be arrested and tried.

After almost three years and two Fast Track Courts, justice evades the victims of the Orissa anti-Christian violence. Even when complaints reach the courts, Christian victims are still subject to all sorts of abuses. From how the evidence is presented and witnesses cross-examined to the intimidating presence of Hindu ultranationalist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) goons in the courthouse, as well as the behaviour of judges and defence lawyers, everything indicates a trial process tainted by anomalies and irregularities.
 
Victims’ lawyers have no role in court, other than feebly protesting from time to time to the judges. Threats are openly proffered in the courtroom against relatives of the dead and eyewitness. When complaints are made about that, judges usually dismiss their concern by saying, “We have sent the orders to the police”, which never responds. Video footage and photos taken by mobile phones have not been examined, either during the investigation phase or during the trial itself. Neither the Directorate of Prosecutions nor the police have tried to pursue or upgrade certain cases.
 
No Relief. Damage Done & Persecution Continues
 
* Half of Orissa’s 30 districts were involved.
* Six thousand houses were burnt in 400 villages.
* About 296 churches and smaller Christian places of worship were also torched.
* Over 56,000 people became internally displaced persons, with about 30,000 living from three months to a year in government refugee camps.
* The rest have left Kandhamal in fear, or in search of jobs, as they do not have any livelihood now in a district, where they face an economic boycott.
* Over 20,000 men, women and children have spent days hiding in forests. Over 10,000 are yet to return home. About 1,000 have been warned or threatened not to.
* Some are living in what can only be described as ‘Christian ghettos’, one of which is on land provided by the district authorities who find themselves powerless to repatriate Christians to their villages.
 
The government of Orissa has acknowledged and admitted to 38 Christians dead in the violence. According to Christian sources, 91 people died during the pogrom, 38 died where they were attacked, 41 succumbed to their injuries, and 12 died in police action. These numbers do not include the cases of suicide and deaths caused by posttraumatic syndrome among the very young and the very old who witnessed the violence close-up and then spent long periods in refugee camps or slums.
 
Two cases, which highlight the state of affairs.
 
1) Orissa nun rape accused.
Church workers and social activists have voiced shock and dismay at an Orissa High Court ruling to grant bail to two men accused of raping a nun. “We’re aghast,” Bipra Charan Nayak, convener of the Kandhamal Survivors Association, said. On May 9, Justice Chittaranjan Das granted bail to Pandit Bishimajhi and Jatia Sahu saying he could not find enough evidence linking them to the alleged rape. The nun was allegedly raped on August 25, 2008 during anti-Christian violence in Kandhamal district. Bishimajhi and Sahu masterminded the 2008 violence including the nun’s rape, Nayak said. The pair later went into hiding, with the police only catching up with them in June last year.
 
Nayak said Bishimajhi was the local secretary of the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (Indian People’s Party) and is a close associate of local legislative assembly member, Karendra Majhi. Bishimajhi and Sahu were “guiltier than their cronies, who were involved in the rape case,” Nayak added. He criticized police “lethargy “as having helped the two get bail. Sister Justine Senapati, an activist, said there are 15 cases against the two for organizing rapes, arson and killings. “How could they get bail?” asked the member of the Sister of St. Joseph’s Annecy congregation. Bishimajhi frightens local police, she said, recalling how the police did nothing despite repeated pleas for help from the raped nun. Granting bail “will have a definite impact on the case as well as on justice and peace in the area,” she said.
 
Shibani Singh, vice-president of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar archdiocese’s women wing, said the ruling shocked and frightened her. “It is a blot on women’s dignity and justice,” she added. The police have named 30 people in connection with the alleged rape and have arrested 22 of them. Of the 22 accused, 17 have managed to get bail.

 

2) Police accused Christians of murdering Swami 
Christians are demanding an inquiry into how seven dalit and tribal people were falsely charged with the murder of of Hindu leader Laxmananada Saraswati, which led to months of violence in which more than 100 people died and hundreds of homes destroyed. Police now say Maoists have confessed to murdering the man. “Innocent Christians were branded and paraded as killers by the police. It smacks of vendetta,” said Sister Justine Senapati of Sisters of St. Joseph’s Annecy, in Bhubaneswar. “Now the state should extend apology to those falsely accused and release them immediately. The government should come up with a comprehensive plan for the compensation and restoration of justice,” she said. Others called for a White paper probe, suggesting the authorities acted in cahoots with Hindu extremists. “We demand a white paper on the nexus between the administration and Sangh Parivar (Hindu fundamentalist organisations),” Paul Pradhan, a Christian leader, said. Pradhan, whose family was forced to become Hindus for a month, said the hate campaign against Christians still continues.
 
The administration and Hindu fundamentalist should own up and be booked accordingly, he said. In January, 2009 seven Dalit and tribal Christians were charged with the murder the Hindu leader. They are Budhadev Naik, Duryodhan Sanamajhi, Munda Badamajhi, Sanatan Badamajhi, Gananath Seth, Bijay Kumar Sana Seth and Bhaskar Sanamajhi. But this week, police charged seven Orissa-based Maoist leaders with killing Saraswati and four others at Jaleshpata Ashram in the Kandhamal district on the night of August 23, 2008. “The seven top hardcore Maoists who operated in Orissa, Udaya and Jadu, are in our custody and have confirmed their involvement,” said Crime Branch Inspector General Abhaya. “Despite Maoists claiming responsibility, the Christians were charged. It is a case of the state abdicating its responsibility and allowing fundamentalists to unleash terror.” said Dhirendra Panda, a human right activist.
 
– With inputs from John Dayal, Prashanti, Ucan & others
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