Supreme Court tells Orissa to ensure Christians’ safety
by Nirmala Carvalho
The ruling, issued last Sunday, criticises the authorities’ slowness in responding early to the violence. Also on Sunday the nun raped in K. Nuagaon on 25 August identified two of her assailants.
Bhubaneshwar (AsiaNews) – The Supreme Court of India has ordered the government of Orissa to increase security measures for Christians. At the same time it criticised the state administration for being late in taking action against the anti-Christian pogrom of late August. Also on Sunday Sister Meena Barwa, the nun raped on 25 August, identified two attackers from the group of men who raped her on that day in. K Nuagaon.

The Court’s order comes in response to a request filed by Mgr Raphael Cheenath, archbishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar, who had turned to the court to ensure the safety of Christians in the district affected by the violence, the rehabilitation of the victims of the violence of the past few months and the reconstruction of the buildings destroyed or damaged by Hindu extremists.

Many leaders in Kandhamal’s Christian community remain sceptical. One, who asked to remain anonymous, said that the Court’s rulings have failed to make much difference. A ruling in October telling the state government to compensate Christians for damages and provide reconstruction aid and protection has largely gone unheeded.

The Christian leader told AsiaNews that “murders and arson in Kandhamal have continued. This ruling leaves us sceptical about any improvement.” He added that money allocated for reconstruction “barely helps in rebuilding homes; it cannot help start life anew with dignity. We are frustrated by the slow pace of the wheels of justice and rehabilitation.”

So far of the 50,000 Christians who fled their homes and now live in camps, only 2,000 have been able to go back to their villages.

The archbishop of Bhubaneswar was more positive in his comment. In his view “the Court understands well the situation in Kandhamal and the seriousness of the current situation.”

For Bishop Cheenath, the Court’s decision is a sign of Providence and that ‘the Lord wants to create something new for our people.”

The prelate told AsiaNews that the Court’s decision also happens to coincide with the identification of two men who took part in the sexual assault of a nun in K. Nuagaon.

Sunday afternoon Sister Meena Barwa identified in fact two of her assailants in Circle Choudwar jail in Cuttack. But Fr Thomas Chellan, who accompanied the Servite nun and who is the main witness in the case, was unable to pick out anyone from the 80 prisoners in the identity parade.

So far ten people have been placed under arrest, charged with participating in the crime.