COURT CONVICTS LEGISLATOR IN SECOND MURDER CASE
September 10 (Compass Direct News) â€“ A Hindu nationalist legislator was arrested yesterday after a court pronounced him guilty of playing a major role in the murder of a Christian during anti-Christian carnage in Orissa stateâ€™s Kandhamal district in August 2008. The Fast Track Court II in Kandhamal convicted Manoj Pradhan of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the murder of a 30-year-old Christian, Bikram Nayak, who succumbed to head injuries two days after an attack by a mob in Budedi village on Aug. 25, 2008. Judge Chitta Ranjan Das sentenced Pradhan to six years of rigorous imprisonment for â€śculpable homicide not amounting to murderâ€ť under Section 304 of the Indian Penal Code and imposed a fine of 15,500 rupees (US$335) for setting houses ablaze. Pradhan, who contested and won the April 2009 state assembly election from jail representing Kandhamalâ€™s G. Udayagiri constituency, was not initially accused in the police complaint in Nayakâ€™s murder, but his role emerged during the investigation, according to The Hindu. In spite of the conviction, the Orissa state unit of the BJP said the case against Pradhan was weak. â€śPradhan was merely present at the scene of crime,â€ť Orissa BJP President Jual Oram told Compass. Last month Kanaka Rekha Nayak, widow of the murdered Parikhita Nayak, complained that despite a previous conviction of Pradhan and an accomplice in that case, they were immediately given bail and continued to roam the area, often intimidating her. Rekha Nayak was among 43 survivors who on Aug. 22-24 testified before the National Peopleâ€™s Tribunal, a private hearing of victims of the Kandhamal violence organized by the National Solidarity Forum. Nayak said local politicians, including Pradhan, hit her husband with an axe. Her husbandâ€™s body was later chopped into pieces, she said.