Home Equality & Justice Nun rape survivor returns to court in India

Nun rape survivor returns to court in India

A Catholic nun, a survivor of gang rape, appeared before the Cuttack district court on August 16 after a nine-year hiatus, providing testimony against 18 individuals implicated in the case.

However, her testimony could not be officially recorded due to the absence of legal representation provided by the Odisha government, according to a Matters India report.

The court is expected to reschedule her statement recording once a lawyer is appointed by the government.

“I have been living with this case for the past 15 years. It is for the people of Kandhamal that I still go to the court, although alone,” the nun told Matters India on August 15.

Despite her commitment, she expressed a sense of isolation, observing the dwindling attention to her case and her solitary journey in seeking justice. 

“Now, it has become only my case. No one has anything to do with it and its status. But does anyone have any feelings for me?” she said. “But it’s okay. I take responsibility for it and will fight till the end.”

“I am left alone and feel lonely. Sometimes it is good to be alone. Jesus is my force and strength but I am a mortal human,” the nun added. 

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The nun was 25 years old when she was gang-raped on August 25, 2008. The incident took place amidst widespread violence that erupted following the murder of Hindu religious leader Laxmanananda Saraswati. 

The unrest persisted for four months, resulting in over 100 fatalities and the destruction of 395 churches and religious sites. Approximately 56,000 individuals were displaced and left destitute.

The state crime branch police arrested and filed charges against nine individuals in connection with the nun’s rape case.

These actions were based on a First Information Report registered at the K Nuagaon police station. A total of 30 people were implicated across three separate chargesheets.

Following nearly six years of legal proceedings, the sessions court delivered convictions in March 2014. Nine of the accused, including the primary perpetrator Mitu Patnaik, were found guilty. 

Patnaik received an 11-year prison sentence for the rape, while two others—Gajendra Digal and Saroj Badhei—were sentenced to two years of rigorous imprisonment for other charges related to the incident.

The recent testimony by the nun on August 16 pertained to the remaining accused in the case.

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