Staff Reporter

BHUBANESWAR: Criminal trial process pertaining to anti-Christian violence in Kandhamal district was going on under atmosphere of fear and intimidation, alleged a legal rights activist here on Thursday.

“Witnesses are being intimidated and no proper legal aid is being provided to victims of violence in Kandhamal,” said Vrinda Grover, executive director of Multiple Action Research Group (MARG) that works in the field of legal empowerment. Ms. Grover charged the State's responsibility did not end with establishing a fast track court, providing proper legal aid was also necessary.

Public prosecutors appointed by the State government were burdened with hundreds of cases and there was need to engage established lawyer with secular credentials to help out Kandhamal victims, she said.

Speaking on the sidelines of release of a book, Kandhamal, the law must change its course, the prominent legal rights activist said normalcy was yet to return in the district after internal displacement took place following the violence.

“Moreover, we have filed a couple of transfer petitions in view of prevailing atmosphere in the district, but it was not expeditiously transferred. Only one case has been transferred to Orissa High Court,” said Ms. Grover.

“Communal violence is challenge to secular and democratic fabric of the country. The State government has failed to discharge its duty on this front. We don't agree with rehabilitation process going on in the district. It is not in accordance with justice,” MARG executive director said.

Picking holes in the State government's handling of communal violence, she said the State government recently denied permission to Pravin Togadia for the entry into the district, but the same wisdom was clearly missing when it allowed the saffron leader into the district soon after murder of Laxmanananda Saraswati.