More than one month after she filed a complaint, the Orissa government on Friday ordered a probe into a nun's allegation that she was raped and paraded naked in a village in Kandhamal district while a dozen policemen watched.
Four people have been arrested, an official in the chief minister's office said. The government also suspended the inspector in charge of the Baliguda police station, where 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 34 people have lost their lives.
An officer of the rank of inspector general of police of the Crime Branch would probe the complaint, a state home department official said.
Though the report was filed many weeks ago, police collected the medical examination report only two days ago following media reports and Sister Nirmala, Superior-General of the Missionaries of Charity, writing to the state authority seeking justice for the nun.
"The medical examination report has confirmed that she was raped," District Superintendent of Police S. Praveen Kumar told IANS.
A police official said they were busy in maintaining law and order and could not find time to look into the case.
According to the nun's written complaint, a mob of about 40 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. 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.
While the government finally seemed to act on the nun's complaint, 46 people have been arrested in the past two days on charges of rioting as violence continued unabated in Kandhamal district.
"We have arrested more than 300 people in the past month. Forty-six of them were detained in the past two days," a police official said.
Officials said they were likely to arrest more people in the next few days if the violence does not stop.
Over 5,000 security personnel have been deployed in the region. Curfew and prohibitory orders have been clamped in many areas.
On Wednesday, mobs set fire to dozens of houses in the Raikia area of the district. On Thursday, arson and violence spread from Kandhamal to the neighbouring district of Boudh.
"Unidentified people set fire to over a hundred houses of dalit Hindus in at least nine villages in Boudh district," said Additional District Magistrate Mihir Chandra Mallik.
"We have set up a relief camp at Kantamal town to provide food and shelter to the people who have lost their homes," he added.
Orissa is not new to communal violence between Hindus and Christians. On Jan 22, 1999, Australian missionary Graham Staines and his two sons, 10-year-old Philip and six-year-old Timothy, were burnt alive by a Hindu mob in their vehicle in Keonjhar district.