Special Correspondent

“The situation has not returned to normal in Kandhamal”

BHUBANESWAR: The All-India Democratic Women’s Association on Monday urged Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to accede to the demand for a CBI inquiry made by the Catholic nun who was subjected to atrocities in Kandhamal on August 25.

“Orissa government should order transfer of the case to the CBI on humanitarian grounds,” AIDWA president Subhashini Ali said at a press conference here.

It was very difficult to even imagine what the nun went through, Ms. Ali said. It would only be just to accede to her request.

The former Member of Parliament, however, lauded the State government’s efforts in apprehending the suspects in the case and suspending the policemen who failed to protect the nun.

The nun was beaten up by a mob and one of them raped her at K. Nuagaon in Kandhamal during the anti-Christian violence in the aftermath of the August 23 killing of Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Lakshmanananda Saraswati.

Giving details of the findings of the five-member AIDWA team that visited Kandhamal on Saturday and Sunday, Ms. Ali said the situation had not returned to normal in the district despite the efforts of the district administration.

She said some people living at a relief camp complained that they were being asked to convert to Hinduism before they could return home. While their neighbours wanted them to return to their villages, outsiders were making this difficult.

Citing an incident of a person belonging to the majority community being killed because he helped many of those who were attacked, Ms. Ali said such incidents were a terrible commentary on the state of affairs in the country. “Those who should be an example to others are, in fact, living in danger.”

Ms. Ali said various development projects under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) to provide employment to labourers belonging to both the communities in Kandhamal must be implemented.

The other members of the AIDWA fact-finding team were its working president Shyamali Gupta, general secretary Sudha Sundararaman, president of the Orissa unit Tapasi Praharaj and secretary of the Orissa unit Pushpa Das.

In the afternoon, an AIDWA delegation met the Chief Minister and submitted a memorandum raising various demands, including action against the forces that did no want communal peace and harmony to be restored in Kandhamal and transfer of the nun’s case to the CBI.