» 11/03/2010, 00.00
Orissa: nun raped in pogroms identifies chief assailant
Santosh Patnaik considered the main author of rape will go on trial today, but has already figured among the main suspects accused in the court of Cuttack. To date, Sr. Meena has recognized five of the 10 extremists who raped her and beat her during the anti-Christian pogrom of 2008 in Kandhamal.
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.
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Out of 30 people charged, only 22 have been arrested. Of these, 17 have been released on bail. For Cuttack-Bhubaneshwar archbishop, this is “a heartbreak for those who suffered” and “the situation now appears discouraging.”
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Orissa: nun violated during 2008 pogroms identifies another of her rapists
Sister Meena recognized the rapist among a group of 30 people. Of these three suspects were real. The identification was made on July 31. To date, she has identified four of ten religious extremists who had beaten and raped her during the pogroms of 2008. Because of continuing threats faced by Christians her case was moved in 2009 from the District Court in Kandhamal to Cuttack.
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