10/30/2009, 00.00
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Orissa: Hindu politician free on bail charged with murder of 7 Christians

by Ajaya Kumar Singh
Manoj Pradhan, the Bharatiya Janata Party is identified as one of the masterminds behind the anti-Christian pogrom of Kandhamal. He faces 14 charges. Fr. Dibakar Parichha, lawyer for the Christians in trials over Hindu violence: it is the "surrender of justice."

Bhubaneswar (AsiaNews) - The Orissa High Court has granted bail to Manoj Pradhan, a local lawmaker from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) accused of being one of the brains behind the pogrom against Christians in Kandhamal in August 2008.    

The court's decision regards all 14 charges made against Pradhan (see photo on left). Pradhan has already obtained two acquittals for “lack of evidence" in murder trials for which he was accused (see AsiaNews, 25/09/2009," Yet another acquittal for a BJP politician behind massacres against Christians in Orissa").   Fr. Dibakar Parichha, a priest and lawyer who is assisting Christians in the trials over Hindu violence, tells AsiaNews that the judges’ decision amounts to "a surrender of justice." According to the priest, this is "a message of intimidation for trial witnesses who now fear for their safety."

For Akash Ray, a 40-year old activist for human rights, the release on bail of Pradhan is "the ultimate derailment of justice for the victims." The MP of the BJP, was elected while in jail, charged with 7 murders, burnings and assaults. His case is unique in the history of Orissa as he is the first state politician to be imprisoned under the National Security Act. This Act is used infrequently and only for individuals who have a criminal record.

For Christians in Orissa, Pradhan is the symbol of the violence suffered, for the Hindu extremists he is a flag that gathers all the most extremist groups of the population.

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