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Hindu leader in anti-Christian violence sentenced for murder

Catholic World News - September 09, 2010

A court in India has handed down a 6-year prison sentence for one of the key figures in the anti-Christian violence that swept through the eastern Orissa state in 2008.

Manoj Pradhan, a leader in the Hindu-nationalist BJP Party, was convicted for the murder of Bikram Nayak on August 26, 2008. He had been sentenced in June to a 7-year term for another killing, and has been implicated in at least 7 other murders. The court also found Pradhan guilty of arson for torching the homes of Christian families.

In the religious violence that erupted in August 2008, 93 Christians were killed by Hindu mobs. More than 6,500 homes were looted and burned, along with 350 churches and 45 schools. An estimated 54,000 people were forced to flee their homes; many have not yet returned. Church spokesmen said that the sentencing of Pradhan could help restore confidence that Christians could rely on the protection of law in Orissa.

Pradhan had been elected to the state legislature after the August 2008 rampages.

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