Key accused in Orissa nun’s rape case arrested

October 8th, 2008 - 10:49 am ICT by IANS  

Bhubaneswar, Oct 8 (IANS) The key accused in the gang-rape of a nun has been arrested in Orissa’s volatile Kandhamal district, where communal clashes since Aug 23 have left at least 35 dead and thousands homeless, police said Wednesday.Santosh Pradhan was arrested from Baliguda town Tuesday and produced before a local court, a police officer told IANS.

Police had earlier arrested four men - Juria Pradhan, Kartik Pradhan, Biren Kumar Sahu and Tapas Kumar Patnaik - for their alleged roles in the crime, he said.

The nun had filed the complaint on Aug 26 - three days after a Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader was killed, triggering a spate of violence targeting Christians and churches in which at least 35 people lost their lives.

Though the report was filed many weeks ago, police collected the medical examination report only last week after the media reported the issue and Sister Nirmala, superior general of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, wrote to the state authorities seeking justice for the nun.

The medical examination report confirmed that she was raped. The state government suspended the inspector in charge of the Baliguda police station, where the nun had filed her complaint.

According to the nun’s written complaint, a mob of about 40 to 50 armed men attacked a house at K. Nuagaon village where she along with a priest, Father Thomas Chellantharayil, had taken shelter after their centre was attacked.

The mob dragged her and the priest and took them to the deserted office of an NGO where she was allegedly stripped and raped by one from the mob. The priest was doused with petrol and beaten up.

They also paraded her naked on the streets, she alleged, saying that the incident occurred in the presence of a dozen policemen.

The state government has sent a police team to New Delhi, where the nun has taken shelter, officials said. The state government has assured all help and protection to the nun and said she needs to come to Orissa and identify the culprits.

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