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Three arrested after nun's rape in Orissa

Victim accuses her cousins

Christopher Joseph, Bhubaneswar

July 17, 2013

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Police in the northern Indian state of Orissa have arrested three Catholic siblings accused of raping their cousin, who is a nun. Church officials said the case results from a long standing family feud.

The accused, comprised of two brothers and one sister, and named by the victim as Jotindra Sobhasundar, Tukuna Sobhasunder and Nalini Sobhasunder, were detained yesterday, according to police officer J N Pankaj.

"The case is under investigation. Nothing has been proved; nothing has been ruled out at this stage. We can give you details only after an investigation," he said.

Archbishop John Barwa of the Cuttuck-Bhubaneswar archdiocese, based in the state capital Bhubaneswar, said the incident was in "no way" linked to religious persecution or the anti-Christian violence that hit the state some five years ago.

Instead, it is seen as a revenge attack for the murder of the accused’s father by the nun’s brothers.

According to the complaint lodged by the 28-year-old nun, a native of Kandhamal district, she was abducted from Berhampur railway station and repeatedly gang raped by the accused between July 5 and July 11. The sister of the two men had apparently lured her to the site of the assault.

Pramod Sobhasunder, a close relative of the accused men, told yesterday that the allegations were fabricated. "There is no truth in the accusation. It is a pressure tactic to withdraw the murder case against the nun's brothers. Her story was cooked up.” 

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