|Gornath Chalanseth; Photo courtesy: Anto Akkara, Cry of the Oppressed.|
The court's decision contrasts dramatically with a court judgment in September 2014 denying bail to all the defendants.
Kandhamal: (UCAN) One of the seven Christians hastily convicted on murder charges after a burst of anti-Christian violence in India's Kandhamal district has been released on bail, after an international petition drive was launched seeking a new trial.
The high court in the state of Odisha granted bail to Gornath Chalanseth, one of the Christians convicted after the 2008 killing of Swami Lakshmanananda. The court's decision contrasts dramatically with a court judgment in September 2014 denying bail to all the defendants.
Chalanseth had filed a fresh request for bail in March, as he and his fellow defendants appeal their conviction. The success of his request suggests that the other defendants – who have not yet filed new requests for bail – could also be successful.
Earlier this month, human rights activists launched a petition drive, asking India's leaders to ensure that the seven convicted Christians receive a new trial. The petition notes that police officials in Kandhamal have given sworn testimony that the evidence against the Christian defendants was fabricated.
Chalanseth, a Baptist Christian, was active in politics and a member of Kotagarh Block panchayat. When the Kotagar police officials called him for a meeting in December 2008, he suspected nothing, says Anto Akkara, whose book ‘Cry of the Oppressed' about the seven Christians convicted is soon to be released.
There was no proof against any of the seven Christians convicted for Swami Lakshmanananda’s murder. Chalansethwas convicted solely based on the testimony of Mahasingh, a Kandho tribal migrant to the region and active member of Sangh Parivar, says Akkara in his book.
Source: Catholic Culture, Indian Currents