The Communist Party of India (Maoist) has reportedly expelled its best known leader in Orissa, Sabyasachi Panda, for his alleged role in fuelling riots in Kandhamal district last August-September.
Fax messages to this effect were sent to media organisations on Friday by ‘Saket’, who claimed to be speaking on behalf of the central committee of the underground party. Some posters and leaflets have also appeared in Naxal-affected districts of the state announcing the expulsion.
Panda had, in a television interview at an undisclosed location, taken responsibility for the killing of Swami Laxmananda Saraswati, a controversial figure, who had been running an ashram in Kandhamal district for four decades. Though revered by local Hindus, he was accused by Christians of encouraging ‘reconversion’ of Christian tribals to Hinduism. Local Hindu organisations reacted violently to his death, sparking off riots in which at least 25 people were killed and over 15,000 forced to flee their homes.
The message said that although the Maoists had decided to fight ‘Hindu fascism’, the killing of Laxmananda was not authorised. “The killing resulted in widespread riots which affected the livelihood of many poor people. Before killing the swami, the religious and caste equations in the area were not taken into consideration. As a result, many people became critical of the role of CPI-Maoist in fuelling the communal riots,” the message said.
Security agencies remained tightlipped about the message. “I cannot confirm whether its contents are true,” Kandhamal DIG Sanjeev Panda said.
(Inputs from Vikas Pathak, Delhi)