CSW welcomes first conviction in Orissa murders

Published 31 March 2012
Christian Solidarity Worldwide has welcomed the first conviction in the case against perpetrators of the communal violence against Christians in India's Orissa state in 2008.

Kartik Paramanika was found guilty of murdering Ramesh Digal in a fast-track court in Orissa on 24 March and sentenced to life imprisonment. He also received five years for arson and was fined 5,000 rupees.

He led a mob to Petapanga village on 25 August 2008, where he killed Digal and burnt down his house.

Paramanika was the headmaster of a school where Digal worked as a cook.

David Griffiths, CSW's South Asia Team Leader, said that witnesses in the Orissa case had faced intimidation.

The handling of the case by the police and the courts has also come under criticism.

Mr Griffiths said the first murder conviction was "very significant" but added that the Indian government needed to do more to ensure that communal violence does not return to the country.

"India's Universal Periodic Review at the UN will provide a forum for other states to probe India on its human rights situation, and questions of justice and impunity are likely to be raised," he said.

"But, India will also increasingly be looked to for leadership and best practice on dealing effectively with communal violence.

"We welcome the government's effort to pass a law dealing with the specific contingencies of communal and targeted violence, which has been drafted in collaboration with civil society groups, and we strongly encourage them to complete this process."

Dr John Dayal, a member of the Government of India's National Integration Council, said, "Justice remains the critical issue in Kandhamal where a combination of circumstances, including lacunae in investigations and coercion of witnesses, has resulted in a long series of acquittals.

"This conviction will help begin to rebuild faith in the judicial system. We must also congratulate the public prosecutor for securing this major success."

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