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     Home > Justice and Peace >  2014-03-14 16:48:13
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2008 Kandhamal nun gang-rape case: 3 people convicted, 6 acquitted

March 14, 2014 - Three persons were convicted while six others were acquitted by a court in eastern India’s Odisha state in connection with the case of the gang rape of Catholic nun in Kandhamal district during the brutal anti-Christian violence in and after August 2008. On Friday, Cuttack District Judge Gyana Ranjan Purohit found Santosh Patnaik guilty of rape, and Gajendra Digal and Saroj Badhei guilty of molestation. Patnaik was sentenced to 11 years in prison, while Digal and Badhei were each sent to prison for 26 months. Six of the other accused were acquitted by the court in Orissa because of lack of evidence.

Police had arrested nine people in connection with the rape of Sr. Meena Barwa of the Handmaids of Mary order. One accused is still being sought. Sr. Barwaa was raped at Nuwagaon in Kandhamal district on August 25, 2008, two days after the assassination of VHP leader Laxmanananda Saraswati in Kandhamal, which Hindu extremists blamed on Christians despite Maoists openly claiming the murder.

Sr. Barwa alleged that she was dragged out of a Hindu man's house where she had taken shelter along with Catholic priest, Father Thomas Chellan. She was taken to an abandoned house where she was raped by a mob. She also alleged that she was paraded naked through the streets. In 2010, the Orissa High Court transferred the case from a district court in Kandhamal to Cuttack, after the victim had expressed concern for her life. A total of 29 witnesses were heard.


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