Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Raped nun fails to get notice for ID parade

Police have failed to notify a Catholic nun, raped during the 2008 anti-Christian violence in Orissa, of an identity parade including a new suspect in the case.

“Unofficially we knew … that the court fixed March 8″ for the identification lineup, Lansingh Lu Rongmei, one of a team of lawyers dealing with the nun’s case told UCA News today.

“But until she gets the summons, how can she attend?” the lawyer asked.

The nun, 29, also feared going to Kandhamal and she planned to request that the court move the police lineup outside the district.

On two previous occasions, the court had allowed the lineup to be moved to Cuttack, the state’s ancient capital, as the nun did not feel safe in Kandhamal.

Kandhamal was the epicenter of the seven-week long riot where she was raped on Aug. 25.

“The district is not yet safe for the nun. And, we also do not think the police would act in a fair manner,” the lawyer said.

She accused police of standing by while the nun was paraded half naked after she had been raped.

Rongmei said the investigating officer had applied to the court in Balliguda, Kandhamal, last month for an identity parade featuring the new suspect.

Father Thomas Chellan, who was also attacked on the same day, was also due to attend but he did not receive notification either, she said.

The last time the nun attended a lineup was on June 23, 2009, conducted inside Choudwar Circle Jail in Cuttack. Police lined up about 80 people, mixing prisoners with eight suspects, and asked the nun to identify those who attacked her.

A similar exercise was conducted on Dec. 5, 2008. On that day, she identified two people — one who slapped her and another who was in the crowd that attacked her.

Sister Mary Pulickal, superior of the nun, told UCA News today that the nuns “will not go to Kandhamal; we cannot go there because we do not feel safe.” Press Trust of India, quoting official sources, said 19 people have been arrested in the case so far. The state police’s Crime Branch was in search of two others, they said.

The news agency said Crime Branch officials also failed to turn up for yesterday’s lineup.

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