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Court issues warrant for Orissa priest

Social worker ignored summons in protest at 'failure of justice' from fast-track courts

Father Ajay Kumar Singh in a church in the Kandhamal area of Orissa, destroyed in the 2008 violence Photograph ©Michael Coyne Father Ajay Kumar Singh in a church in the Kandhamal area of Orissa, destroyed in the 2008 violence Photograph ©Michael Coyne
  • ucanews.com reporter, Bhubaneswar
  • February 25, 2011
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A fast-track court in Orissa has issued an arrest warrant for a Catholic priest for failing to appear when summonsed.

The warrant was issued on February 22 after Father Ajay Kumar Singh ignored two earlier summonses. The priest, whose office was destroyed during the 2008 anti-Christian violence in the state, has now been given until March 4 to appear.

Father Singh said today that he had refused to appear before the court because he questioned its ability to deliver justice. He said he had named 117 people as accused but the court split the case into two, proceeding to hear the case of those accused who came for a hearing. The court acquitted them in November 2010 despite several witnesses testifying against them. Father Singh said he stayed away after the same judge began hearing the second part of the action.

“I am aggrieved for not getting justice,” said Father Singh, who then approached a higher court seeking a transfer of the case. “The District Sessions Judge sat on the case for nearly three months,” he said.

The fast-track courts set up to speed up cases related to anti-Christian violence has become too fast for the comfort of the victims, Father Singh says. “It is bent on completing the trial, but in the process I am afraid the victims are not getting justice,” Father Singh said.

The courts dispose off cases without proper investigation, he says. “The prosecution bias and state complicity have rendered the victims hapless. It is gross injustice,” he said.

“If such things are to happen to us, priests, what is the fate of poor and ignorant villagers?” he asked. “It is quite scary.”

Father Singh wants a special investigation team from the federal government to monitor the cases. “Otherwise, the seeker of justice has to be on the run,” he added.

Father Singh directs the Jan Vikas (people’s advancement), the social service center of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar archdiocese, near Balliguda in Kandhamal district. A Catholic nun was raped at the center during the violence.

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