11/27/2010, 00.00
INDIA
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Orissa: Christians have lost faith in justice

by Santosh Digal
The release on bail of Hindu Manoy Pradhan, previously convicted for murder, marks a blow for the trial against the perpetrators of anti-Christian pogrom of 2008. Judges accused of being biased and ignoring Christians’ cry for justice who announce appeal to the High Court.

 Bhubaneswar (AsiaNews) - Christians have lost hope of obtaining justice after the release on bail of Manoj Pradhan, one of the main defendants in the trial over the 2008 Orissa pogrom. Bishop of the Diocese of Sambalpur, Lucas Kerketta, tells AsiaNews that "the courts of Orissa seem to be very lenient towards people who carried out the worst anti-Christian violence in recent years, with many hundreds of deaths, 56 thousand displaced houses and churches destroyed ".

Manoj Pradhan, a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) deputy and member of the extremist group Sangh Parivar, was sentenced in September in first instance to six years in prison for the murder of Vikram Nayak, a Christian killed during the pogroms of 2008. On 22 November the Court of Appeal has chosen to release him on bail.

"Everybody knows that Pradhan was one of the masterminds in attacks on Christians in Kandhamal - says Mgr. Kereketta - If the courts continue to grant bail and absolve prisoners, Christians will lose their faith in the judicial process and in the State. "

According to Father Nicalas Barla, a lawyer and activist for human rights, assisting Christians of Kandhamal in their case, lawyers and judges in courts of 'Orissa are "biased" and ignore Christians  cry for justice. "However - says Fr Nicalas - the Christians of Kandhamal will go forward. " "We plan - he adds - to appeal to the High Court in the cases that we have lost in the lower courts of appeal. The trials here in Kandhamal have become redundant, as almost all the detainees were freed on bail" .

Meanwhile, outside the courts in Kandhamal violence continues. On November 25 Manoj Sahu, a Hindu nationalist leader in Orissa was killed in Bramanigaon (Kandhamal) by a group of Maoists from Naxal on his way to a bus stop near his house. The man was among the organizers of the first anti-Christian pogrom that began on December 24, 2007 in Bramanigaon, following the murder of a Hindu nationalist leader Swami Laxamnanda Swarsati, who was also killed by the Maoists.

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