01/18/2011, 00.00
INDIA
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Orissa: police claim pastor killed by extremists, drowned. Village revolts

by Santosh Digal
An autopsy on the body of Saul Pradhan was published today clearing the two Hindu extremists accused of his murder. Family members are threatening protests and call for new examination. Archbishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar invites all Christians in the village to gather evidence against the two killers.

Raikia (AsiaNews) - Police in Pokal (Orissa) claim that according to the autopsy Saul Pradhan, the Protestant pastor who was killed last January 11, died from drowned. The news has sparked the ire of family and villagers who accuse the authorities of having manipulated the investigation to defend Marda Pradhan and Baiju Mallick, the two Hindu extremists accused of his murder.

The daughter of Pradhan, Tarumã, and other relatives ensure that when the man's body was found it showed leg fractures and abrasions to the face and chest, a clear sign of aggression. Two Hindus were Pradhan’s employers and were seen with him the day he died. They are building contractors and in 2008 took part in anti-Christian pogrom, during which the pastor's house was demolished. Fr. Bijay Kumar Pradhan, vicar of the Archdiocese of Cuttack-Bhubaneshwar, tells AsiaNews that before Saul’s murder, Marda and Baiuju had ordered the pastor to convert to Hinduism, threatening serious consequences for a refusal.

Meanwhile, the Church and Christian activists are demanding that justice is done. Today, Archbishop Raphael Cheenath  of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar, invited all the Christian villagers to gather evidence against the killers in order to push the authorities to intervene. In recent days, Sajan George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christian (GCIC), had spoken of the danger of the investigation being manipulated and sought the intervention of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

 

Nirmala Carvalho collaborated

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