05/11/2019 India (International Christian Concern) – India’s Supreme Court has granted bail to one of seven Christians wrongfully convicted of murdering a Hindu leader in August 2008. The false murder accusations against these seven Christians incited anti-Christian mob violence that swept across the Kandhamal District in 2008 which remains the worst instance of Christian persecution in India’s modern history.
Gornath Chalenseth, the Christian granted bail, was released from Phulbani jail in Odisha on May 9. In granting Chalenseth bail, India’s Supreme Court said, “The accused has already undergone 10 years of his sentence and taking an overall view of the matter the accused should be released on bail.”
“It is a huge victory for these hapless men who don’t have the resources or knowledge to fight for their freedom in India’s complicated judicial system,” Father Dibakar Parichha, a Catholic priest assisting in the case, told UCA News. Fr. Parichha went on to express hope that the other six Christians would also be granted bail.
In August 2008, a controversial Hindu leader named Laxmanananda Saraswati and four of his associates were found murdered in Kandhamal. Hindu extremists quickly blamed the murders on local Christians, sparking off months of anti-Christian mob violence.
Under extreme pressure from the mobs, police arrested seven Christian men and charged them with the murders. In 2013, these seven Christians were convicted on weak evidence and sentenced to life imprisonment. Their appeal has been waiting to be heard by the Odisha High Court for more than five years.