Mumbai (AsiaNews) - The Supreme
Court of India has sent a note to the government, police and Investigation
Office of Orissa, demanding explanations for the high rate of acquittals in
cases involving the anti-Christian pogrom in Kandhamal (2008). The
judges RM Lodha and AR Dave gave eight weeks to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik
and his ministers to respond to the allegations of the NGO "Initiative for
justice, peace and human rights." According
to the group, 121 of 185 processes resulted in acquittals, and 64 convictions all
relate to minor offenses, while those convicted of murder, rape, arson and
looting still roam free. For
Sajan George, president of the Global
Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), the the Supreme Court move "gives
new hope to the families of the victims of Kandhamal, who suffer and seek justice
for four years."
The NGO presented the results of their research to the Supreme Court last May, requesting fresh investigations and the removal of trials outside Orissa. According to Pallav Sisodia, legal adviser to the group, there was a systematic and deliberate failure in investigations, which at the time of the trials led to lack of evidence and witnesses. In addition, in several cases the eyewitnesses were exploited for the benefit of the culprits.
Fr. Dybyasingh Parichha, head of the legal department of the Church in Kandhamal and secretary of the NGO, said: "We have collected all the documents produced by the local courts, and we found huge gaps, including those of the prosecution. Having analyzed everything, we decided to appeal to the Supreme Court. "
"The vulnerable Kandhamal Christians - reaffirms Sajan George - were sadistically tortured and killings massacred in the presence of mobs that watched the brutal events voyeuristically. The killings in Kandhamal was Genocide, and the high rate of acquittals were emboldening radical Hinduvata extremists in other BJP [ BJP, ultra-nationalist Hindu party, ed] ruled States and reinforced the impunity enjoyed by communalized state agencies. I would like to echo the words of Justice Shah et al" The incidents of Kandhamal are a national shame and a complete defacement of humanity". The judge AP Shah is the former Chief Justice of the High Court of New Delhi, which in 2010 was asked to form a special investigation team to review the complaints about 2008.
According to the president of the GCIC, the decision taken by the Supreme Court "emphasizes the restoration of the principles of natural justice, which are the basic law. Thus far, natural justice has been denied to the Christian community in Orissa."