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Nun raped in India in 2008 finds victory in court's conviction of three
Catholic News Service

NEW DELHI — A trial court in Cuttack has convicted three men for an August 2008 incident in which a nun was raped and paraded around semi-naked.

Six of those charged in the incident were acquitted for lack of evidence.

The nun, a member of the Congregation of Handmaids of Mary, described the court verdict as "a victory for the church and the suffering people."

"Yes, the (court) verdict has proved that it (rape) is true. Truth has been upheld," she told Catholic News Service.

"For more than five years, I have been going to the court. I am happy the painful trial is over and fruitful. We have been craving for justice. We are happy," she said.

The widespread anti-Christian violence in which the incident occurred was triggered by the murder of a Hindu leader. The violence left more than 100 dead, nearly 300 churches desecrated and 6,000 Christian houses looted and plundered in Orissa state's Kandhamal district.

The nun, then 28, and Father Thomas Chellan, director of the pastoral center in Kandhamal, were pulled from a Hindu house where they had taken shelter; the nun was raped in a burned church building before both of them were paraded, semi-naked, along the road in police presence.

The court sentenced Mitu Patnaik, one of the accused, to 11 years' imprisonment; Gajendra Digal and Saroj Badhei were given of sentences of 26 months each for outraging the modesty of the victim.

Initially, Hindu nationalists initially demanded the arrest of the raped nun for "defaming Orissa police." Two months later, she addressed a crowded news conference in New Delhi, demanding impartial federal police investigation into the rape.

During her news conference, she told reporters: "One of them tore my blouse and others my undergarments. Father Thomas Chellan protested, but they beat him and pulled him out from there. They pulled out my sari, and one of them stepped on my right hand and another on my left hand and then a third person raped me on the verandah."

Father Santhosh Digal, spokesman for the Archdiocese of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar, which includes Kandhamal, told CNS, "We are happy that the truth has been upheld, but the conviction of three people is not enough.

"Several people were behind the parading and rape of the nun in public. They, too, should be taken to task," said Father Digal.

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