Seven innocents

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News by;Narendra Mohanty


Bhubaneswar,06/01/18:A book on Kandhamal fraud and travesty of justice as titled “Who Killed Swami Laxmanananda” ? has been released at Lohiya Akademi, Bhubaneswar by Mr. Prafulla Samanatara, President of Lokshakti Abhijan, Odisha, Mr. Narendra Mohanty, State Convener of INSAF & Campaign Against Fabricated Odisha, Mr. Kedar Mishra, Columnist and poet, Mr. Dhirendra Panda, Coordinator, National Solidarity Forum in the presence of writer of the book Mr. Anto Akkara, a freelance journalist and researcher and demanded release of seven innocent tribal and dalits who are languishing jail since last 9 years on the accusation of killing Swami Laxamananada and convicted for life imprisonment. 

The activists claimed that, the Indian Constitution has not given right to anybody to kill others. It may be Maoists or police or anybody else must be punished for killing human being. They told the reporters that the spirit of Indian Judiciary System must be maintain as “thousand culprits may be scot free but one innocent should not be punished”. Though the Maoists claimed that they killed Swami Laxamananada, the innocents are suffering for the killing by others. Even without the trial of two most Maoist leader ‘Azad and Sabyasachi’ the trial court declared the judgment, which is a big question mark towards the neutrality of judiciary and that was raised at the press conference by Campaign Against Fabricated Cases on 3rd October at the Press Club of Phulbani.


The author of the book , who is a freelance journalist and researcher claimed that the killing of Swami Laxamananda was full of mysterious and doubtful and the cover must be open from various doubts before the murder of Hindu Priest by the state police. 

Swami Laxmanananda was Saraswati assassinated on the sacred Janmashtami night - August 23, 2008. The trusted body guard of the 81-year old Swami was missing on the day and police guards ran away when the assailants entered the Ashram. Doctors who were rushed to the Ashram in the jungle from far off centers were asked to 'hurry up' with the token post mortem held in the Ashram compound itself in the night. 

Even before the sunrise, preparations were complete for the zigzag funeral procession crisscrossing Kandhamal for two days calling for revenge on Christians. In the aftermath, nearly 38 Christians were killed and 300 churches and 6,000 houses were plundered in unabated violence rendering 56,000 homeless. 

Soon after the Swami's murder, four Christians including a 13-year old illiterate boy were picked up by Saffron henchmen, thrashed and dumped in police stations. VHP leader Pravin Togadia announced the names of 'Swami's killers'. That is how the nation was fooled about the 'Christian conspiracy'. When the police could not fix the 'first batch of killers' who had been detained for 40 days, they were let off with an affidavit: "Due to fear, we had taken shelter in police station." 

Then the investigation team arrested the 'second batch of killers' - 7 innocent Christians – six of them illiterates - from remote Kotagarh area in two batches. On the day the chargesheet was filed, Togadia stated that ‘Pope should apologise to Hindus’. Was the Crime Branch acting in tandem with VHP(?). 

During four years of trial of the accused in the Fast Track Court, hardly any worthwhile evidence was brought before the two judges. Biranchi N Mishra, the Fast Track Court judge who had presided over final two years of the trial, was transferred in 2013 before delivering the verdict. 

Was it because the judge had challenged the prosecution prodding why the innocents were in detention and even recorded that the conduct of the Investigating Officer was 'deplorable'? Ironically, the Investigating Officer Santosh Kumar Patnaik was conferred with the Police Medal after this. 

The shocking verdict - convicting the 7 accused Christians to life imprisonment - was delivered abruptly by a newly appointed third judge in October 2013. While the vocabulary in the judgment raises serious questions, their appeal has been pending before High Court. 

Even Hindu neighbours of the convicts in Kotagarh questioned how the judicial system could convict their ‘innocent’ neighbors and expressed readiness to be witnesses to prove their innocence in any court. Surprisingly, two years after this conviction, the same police officers who had ensured the conviction of the innocent Christians told the Justice Naidu Commission that the much trumpeted 'Christian conspiracy' theory was baseless including the Beticola Church resolution. But forensic testing showed that it was forged. 

Hence, a 'supari' (contract) killing allegation cannot be denied. That explained the various claims and denials of Maoist role in the murder. 

Despite determined propaganda, the people of Kandhamal have been wise enough to grasp the conspiracy that ‘fooled them’ (hamne ullu banaya). Major section of the media in Odisha rewrote the Kandhamal script following the release of the first edition of this book here in Bhubaneswar in September 23, 2016. Even after a year, the seven innocent Christian convicts continue to languish in jail while the enquiry report of Justice Naidu Commission submitted to the government on December 22, 2015 remain in cold storage even after two years. 

In June this year, the author of the book visited the ‘innocents’ in Balliguda jail ‘incognito’. Four days later, three of them were bundled out to different jails outside Kandhamal. That confirms that a mighty octopus is keeping a close watch on Kandhamal affairs - leaving a blot on the judicial system of the country. Truth should not be kept under the carpet for ever as the motto of the nation proclaims: 'Satyameva Jayate'. 

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2018-04-21 13:07