By Matters India Reporter
Phulbani, May 21, 2019: Gornath Chalanseth, one of the seven Christians languishing for a decade in an Odisha jail, was released on bail granted by the Supreme Court.
“My joy has no words,” Chalanseth said May 20 as his family and well-wishers accorded him an emotional welcome at the jail gate in Phulbani, the headquarters of Kandhamal district.
The visitors had waited for hours for Chalanseth to walk out free.
“This is the happiest day of my life,” said Rutha, Chalanseth’s wife, who received him with a bouquet.
All his four children, including married daughter Santilatha, joined their step mother at the jail gate. They had come after traveling five hours from Kotagarh.
The apex court granted the bail on May 9 on a plea by the legal team of New Delhi-based Alliance Defending Freedom.
“The only one missing here is our grandfather (90 year old Bachan Chalanseth). He is too old to make this long journey,” explained Nithaniel Chalanseth, the eldest of three sons, who struggled for ten days to get the bail order executed.
Chalanseth along with Bhaskar Sunamajhi, Bijay Sanseth, Buddhadev Nayak, Durjo Sunamajhi, Sanatan Badamajhi and mentally challenged Munda Badamajhi were sentenced to life imprisonment in 2013 for allegedly assassinating a Hindu religious leader in 2008.
The murder of Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati in Kandhamal triggered unprecedented violence that lasted four months and claimed nearly 100 lives and rendered more than 56,000 homeless.
Despite being excited over his freedom from captivity of a decade, Chalanseth said with a twinge of sadness: “I am happy with my freedom but there are other innocents in jail. Six of Kandhamal’s innocents are also in jail.”