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Orissa violence: SC transfer Nun rape case to CBI

By Staff

{image-Nun rape case_22102008.jpg news.oneindia.in}New Delhi, Oct 22: The Supreme Court on Wednesday, Oct 22 declined to transfer to the CBI from the Orissa police the investigation of the nun rape case in Kandhamal.

A bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justices P Sathasivam and J M Panchal, however, expressed the hope that the victim would cooperate with the state police in identifying the culprit. The apex court also expressed the hope that the state government would take a generous view on the demand of the petitioner for sanction of Rs 3 crore for the reconstruction of churches and other religious buildings of Christians and would take an appropriate decision.

The apex court directed that the Central Paramilitary Forces, deployed in Orissa to maintain law and order and to protect the Christian minorities from attack, would continue to be deployed in the state till the end of December 2008 in view of coming festivals like Christmas. Earlier, senior counsel Colin Gonsalves, appearing for the petitioner Raphael Cheenath, Archbishop of Cuttack, contended that the victim had lost complete faith in the state police as she was handed over to the mob by policemen.

Mr Gonsalves alleged that after being subjected to gang rape by rioters when she took refuge with the police, they allowed the mob to take her away and after that she was stripped naked and paraded in public.

He contended that she was totally demoralised and dispirited and did not want to go to the police, who were making insinuations against her. The counsel pleaded for a CBI inquiry as the state police was not expected to proceed against their own men.

He submitted that it was a national-level conspiracy against a minority of Christians, who were being subjected to such attacks not only in Orissa but in other parts of the country like Karnataka and if wrongdoers were not brought to book, such attacks would tear apart the secular fabric of the country.

He also submitted that the state government was lacking political will to book the culprits as everybody knew who they were.

Additional Solicitor General Gopal Subramaniam, appearing for the Centre, backed the demand of the petitioner for a CBI inquiry and contended that a larger issue was involved in the present petition and wanted to know ''can we allow a state to be a onlooker? Can people be attacked without fear of law-enforcing machinery by a group of autocrats and can divisive forces be permitted to take law in their hands at the cost of cohesive fabric of society?'' Senior counsel K K Venugopal, appearing for the state of Orissa, alleged that the victim was not cooperating with the Crime Branch of the state police in the investigation of the case and the state police was sparing no efforts in bringing the culprit to book. Nine accused had already been arrested and some of them from far off places like Palghat in Kerala, he added.

Mr Venugopal alleged that the victim was not coming forward to identify her alleged tormentors.

The Kandhamal district was rocked by communal violence following the murder of VHP leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati and four others on August 23.

The state government virtually gave the Bajrang Dal activists a clean chit and Mr Venugopal pointed out that there was traditional rivalry since 1940 between Kandhas(Schedule Caste Hindu converts) and Pannas and naxalites were also active in the area.

The apex court in its order said, ''We don't think it proper at this stage to transfer the investigation to the CBI. We hope the victim would cooperate with the state police.'' The apex court also directed the state government to hand over 560 private complaints of the victims, lodged with the police to the fast track court for speedy disposal of the complaints and adjourned the hearing till first week of January next year.


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