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Why communal fire spread across Orissa

The manner in which Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati was killed has contributed more to keep the communal pot boiling in Orissa, writes Soumyajit Pattnaik.

india Updated: Aug 26, 2008 23:33 IST
Soumyajit Pattnaik

The manner in which Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati was killed has contributed more to keep the communal pot boiling in Orissa.

The killing of an unarmed 80-year-old sadhu by a posse of heavily armed assailants has evoked strong reactions even from ordinary citizens.

There was discontentment among the people over the state government's failure to provide security to the religious leader who had already received a threat.

The VHP stepped in to exploit the sympathy for the swami to the hilt.

Subash Chavan, national co-convenor of the Bajrang Dal told HT: “The manner in which the swami was killed has sparked serious discontentment among the people. They spontaneously supported our call for Orissa bandh because they have realised how an 80-year-old religious person was killed in such a brutal manner.”

The swami had received a threat letter barely 24 hours before his murder and this had been brought to the notice of the police. But the somnolent Kandhamal police did nothing to step up security and allowed the miscreants to have a free run in the Jaleshpata Ashram on Saturday night.

A senior politician from Kandhamal district told HT: “The anger against the police is manifest in the mob attacks especially against police stations in Kandhamal district. Several police outposts have been torched and vehicles damaged as the protesters think the police failed to protect the swami.”

The Swami was spearheading the re-conversion movement in Orissa to bring back converted Christians into the Hindu fold.

He confronted missionaries and church leaders in the process. He also led movements against cow slaughter and ran Vanavasi Kalyan Ashrams to educate tribal children. And when the VHP blamed the Christians for his death and whipped up communal passions, the administration failed completely to protect the community.

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