Cuttack (AsiaNews) – Despite obstacles, the trial against the Hindu extremist perpetrators of the anti-Christian pogrom that erupted in the district of Kandhamal (Orissa) in the summer of 2008 is pushing ahead. This morning, Sister Meena, the nun beaten and raped during the violence, recognized another of her 10 assailants. The man, Santosh Patnaik, has been defined by the religious sister as the main author of the rape. The identification was made just hours before the sixth session of the trial against the authors of the violence in the District Court in Cuttack. To date, Sr. Meena has recognized 5 of her 10 rapists.
Fr. Dibakar Parichha, head of legal assistance to victims of the pogrom, told AsiaNews that "more than two years after the rape, the case is now finally moving in a specific direction, as the rapist identified by Sister Meena is one of the accused by the court . We hope that the religious sister can get justice”.
Sr. Meena Barwa, of the Servite religious order, worked at the Divyajyoti pastoral centre in K Nuagaon, in the district of Kandhamal, together with Fr. Thomas Chellan. The sister was born in the district of Sambalpur, and took her final vows last April. Last August 25, together with the priest who worked at the center, she was seized, beaten, stripped naked, and paraded around the village. At one point, the fundamentalists wanted to burn her alive together with the priest. Instead, they raped her. Only much later, at night, after the beating and mistreatment continued, were the two freed by the police.(See: AsiaNews.it, 25/10/2008 I, Sr. Meena, raped by Hindus while police stood watching) .
In 2009, the case of Sr. Menna was moved for safety reasons from the district court in Kandhamal to Cuttack. To date, the climate of intolerance in Kandhamal does not allow the regular course of investigations and several witnesses have been threatened with violence outside the courts. Yesterday, the Special Court indicted 12 people in the district, but has proved 46 innocent because of alleged lack of evidence, sparking protests from victims.