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I don’t want to be victimised by Orissa police, says Sister Meena

Special Correspondent

Police did their best to dissuade me from filing FIR

— PHOTO: S. SUBRAMANIUM

‘POLICE FAILED TO PROTECT ME’: Sister Meena Lalita Barwa, who was raped in Orissa two months ago, addresses a news conference in New Delhi on Friday. She said the police failed to protect her from the attackers, were friendly with them and did not register an FIR. With her are Sister Vineeta (left) and Lensinglau Rongmei, a Supreme Court lawyer.

NEW DELHI: The nun who was raped by a rioting mob in Kandhamal district of Orissa on August 25 on Friday demanded that the case be transferred to the Central Bureau of Investigation.

Her face covered, Sister Meena Lalita Barwa made a statement in full view of the media, at a press conference under the aegis of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India. Her decision to meet the media comes two days after the Supreme Court rejected an application by the Archbishop of Cuttack, Raphael Cheenath, for a CBI probe.

Fighting back tears and choking on her words a couple of times, Sister Meena of the Divyajyoti Pastoral Centre, who was working in the K. Nuagaon area, said: “I was raped and now I don’t want to be victimised by the Orissa police. I want [a] CBI enquiry.” The State police had “failed to stop the crimes, failed to protect me from the attackers, they were friendly with the attackers, they tried their best that I did not register an FIR, not make complaints against police, police did not take down my statement as I narrated in detail and they abandoned me halfway.” Reading out her handwritten statement in English, Sister Meena narrated her harrowing experience including the rape on a veranda of the Janavikas building. Recalling the traumatic hours, the nun said she managed to escape for a while during which time she heard the crowd looking for her and say “come let us rape her; at least 100 people should rape.”

According to Sister Meena, the mob wanted to tie her and Father Chellan together and set them afire. The two pleaded with the Orissa State Armed Police to save them — with the sister taking refuge with the policemen and sitting between two of them to protect herself. But the two were once again pulled away by the mob. The crowd then decided to hand them over to the Block Development Officer, who, along with the mob, took the two to the Nuagaon police outpost.

Sister Meena said the mob was very friendly with the policemen. The inspector in charge of Balliguda — where they were taken — heard her out and asked whether she was interested in filing an FIR and whether she knew of the consequences of doing so. Sister Meena said she was taken for a medical examination around 10 in the night. The police were afraid of the mob attacking the police station and so took the two missionaries to the Inspection Bungalow.

The next day, when she was giving her statement for filing an FIR, the head constable asked her not to go into great detail. “So I rewrote it for the third time in one-and-a-half page. I filed the FIR but I was not given a copy of it,” Sister Meena said.

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