Police in India charge 10 men with raping nun
Last updated 2-5-09 at 1:38 p.m.
BHUBNESHWAR, India (AP) — Police in eastern India have charged
10 men with gang raping a Catholic nun during weeks of anti-Christian
violence last year, an official said on Jan. 29.
The violence between Hindus and Christians in Orissa
state followed the killing of a Hindu religious leader in August. Police
blamed Maoist rebels, but conservative Hindu groups blamed Christian
residents and set fire to a Christian orphanage.
The state government said 32 people died in the
clashes that followed. The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India
said at least 40 Christians were killed.
The nun, her face hidden behind a scarf, had told
reporters in October that she was raped on Aug. 25 when a mob attacked
a prayer hall where she worked in the state’s Kandhamal district.
She said a group of about 50 men tore off her clothes
and raped her. Later, she said, she was paraded naked, together with
a priest, past several policeman who she says did not help her.
On Jan. 29, investigating officer Dilip Mohanty
said that 10 men, including two the nun had identified from a lineup
on Jan. 5, were charged with gang rape — a specific charge under
Indian law. If convicted, the men face up to 10 years in prison.
Twenty others have also been brought up on charges
related to their alleged rioting during the attack on the prayer house
where the nun worked, police official Jitendra Koel said.
Mohanty said the investigation into the attack
would continue and police are looking for other attackers and members
of the mob.
Relations are usually peaceful between Christians,
who make up 2.5 percent of India’s 1.1 billion people, and Hindus,
who account for more than 80 percent.
However, Orissa has a history of anti-Christian
violence, with hard-line Hindu groups claiming
that Christian missionary groups are forcing or
bribing people to convert. The charges were denied
by Christian leaders. (end)