Swamiji’s Murder–Widespread anger in Kandhamal

via Pioneer News service | Bhubaneswar published on August 24, 2008
  • Orissa bandh today; schools, colleges to remain closed
  • Naveen announces judicial probe, ex-gratia
  • Widespread anger was expressed throughout the State over the brutal killing of Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati and four of his associates.


    The VHP and Bajrang Dal activists burned tyres and blocked traffic in different parts of the State to ventilate their anger on the failure of the police to give protection to Swamji. He had lodged an FIR on the local police station that his life was under threat and had sought police protection. Within 26 hours of lodging the complaint, he and his disciples were killed at Jalespata Ashram under Tumudibandh block in Kandhamal district on Saturday night.

    Fearing a backlash, the Kandhamal district administration clamped curfew in Phulbani town and prohibitory orders under section 144 CrPC throughout the district. All borders of the district were sealed. However, defying the orders, disciples of the Swami took out the Swami’s funeral procession to another ashram at Chakapada, which is nearly 100 km away from Jalespata Ashram. More than 10,000 mourners reportedly accompanied the funeral procession. The funeral procession went through Jalespata, Tumudibandh, Paramapanka, Baataguda and reached Baliguda at 3 pm. It was supposed to go through Nuaagaan, Sarangagada, Phiringia, Bisipada Chhak and Tikabali to reach his Karmabhumi Chakapada late in night.

    The people bid farewell to the departed souls with tears. People in Baliguda could not control their emotions and they even attacked the police and burnt a number of vehicles. Police had to resort to a mild lathi-charge to disperse the crowd. Reports reaching Bhubaneswar said the people were dead against the police inaction.

    VHP activists allegedly burnt down a Marshal jeep OR 07 G 5882 carrying Sisters at G Udayagiri. The Sisters were allowed to leave the vehicle, said sources. Similarly, hundreds of supporters of Swamiji were moving to Tumudibandh with agitated mood, where his body was kept for last darshan.

    In order to save its face, the district administration suspended the officer-in-charge of the Tumudibandh Police Station. However, it did not calm the anger of local people. They demanded that action should be taken against the District Collector and the SP. “Swamji had himself lodged the FIR. But the district administration could not react promptly to protect the precious lives,” said Sudarshan Bhoi, a local of Tumudibandh area.

    Reacting over the issue, the VHP and the Bajrang Dal have called for a dawn-to-dusk Orissa bandh. The BJP State unit has announced to support the bandh. In a bid to avoid further violence, the Government has ordered closure of all schools and colleges on Monday.

    In order to take stock of the situation, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Sunday morning convened a high-level meeting at the State Secretariat. “All efforts would be made to arrest the culprit,” he said, adding that additional police force has been mobilised and combing operation is on to nab the culprit. Police sources said 20 platoons of police force and four companies of CRPF have been mobilised to the spot.

    Patnaik also ordered a judicial probe into the incident and announced that Rs 2 lakh ex-gratia would be given to the next of kin of the deceased.

    The situation in the tribal dominated Kandhamal district “is tense but under control” after the killing of the VHP activists last night by unidentified attackers, Kandhamal District Collector Krishan Kumar claimed.

    Meanwhile, a small thatched structure used as a prayer house was set afire by unidentified persons late on Saturday night at Tentulijhari in Sundargarh district, Inspector General of Police (Western Range) Pranabindu Acharya said.

    The police have arrested Pradesh Kumar Das, an employee of the World Vision, a Christian Charity, from Khadagpur while escaping from the district at Buguda. In another drive, two other persons Vikram Digal and William Digal have been arrested from the house of Lal Digal, a local militant Christian, from Nuasahi at Gunjibadi, Nuagaan. They have admitted to having joined a group of 28 other assailants.

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