Kandhamal twin courts set the pace on fast track to justice
In 2008, a mob led by Manoj Pradhan, the current BJP MLA from Kandhamal, chased down the family of Parikhita Digal, a Dalit Christian who was then 31, and butchered and burned him in front of his wife and two daughters.
A fast-track court in Kandhamal sentenced Pradhan to seven years in jail last year but he got bail from the Orissa High Court, before the Supreme Court last week cancelled the bail, questioning the “favourable treatment” given to the MLA.
For Digal’s wife Kanakrekha Nayak, 28, justice has come in under three years, a record of sorts considering the pace at which cases normally move in the country. “I am satisfied that my husband’s killers have been convicted. I wish others who were part of the mob too had been convicted,” she said.
For many other Dalit Christians scarred by the Kandhamal communal riots, justice has been as fast, with two special courts convicting 279 people, mostly Hindu tribals and non-tribals, in the last two-and-a-half years. Even the National Human Rights Commission has noted how the Kandhamal convictions have outnumbered decisions in all other riot cases in the last 10 years.