Mumbai (AsiaNews) - A court in Berhampur (Ganjam district) yesterday acquitted one of the rapists of a Dalit Christian girl, raped and killed during the anti-Christian persecution in Orissa (2008) "for lack of evidence".
The news was confirmed to AsiaNews by Sajan George, president of
the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), who states: "The acquittal
of the accused is a major setback for the victims of the pogrom in Kandhamal.
Since sexual violence against women
and children continue to increase in India, this ruling is a blow to justice
and the dignity of women and girls in our country. "
"The court - Sajan George tells AsiaNews - has found the accused 'not guilty' because 'there is no evidence'. During the anti-Christian violence, a group of Hindu radicals raped a young Dalit to punish her uncle, who had refused to renounce Christianity and become Hindu. The girl was abandoned to die in a forest, and since there were no witnesses, her attackers were acquitted. All of this is a sad and pathetic justice for our women and the victims of Anti-Christian violence ".
On 23 August 2008, a Maoist group killed Hindu leader Saraswati Laxanananda in his ashram, in Kandhamal District, a fact the group readily admitted.
However, the followers of the radical Hindu cleric blamed Christians, whom he had criticised for a long time because of their social involvement with tribals and Dalits (outcaste) and had accused - along with bishops, priests and nuns - of proselytising.
In Kandhamal, Hindu extremists unleashed the most violent persecution against the Christian minority that India had ever seen.
Overall, the pogrom forced 55,000 Christians to flee, with 5,600 houses and 415 villages raided and set on fire.
According to government figures, 38 people were killed and two women raped. Scores of people were injured and permanently maimed.
The Church and social activists reported instead the destruction of almost 300 churches, plus convents, schools, hostels and welfare facilities. At least 91 people died, 38 immediately, 41 from injuries sustained in the violence, and 12 in police action.