Mental shift

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Cong MP suspected behind VHP leader’s murder

Posted by jytmkh on October 17, 2008

With the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) alleging that the ‘killing of its leader Swami Lakshamananda Sarwasati was hatched in the presence of Congress Rajya Sabha member R.K. Nayak’, the issue is likely to get a new twist that might have lethal effect on the politics of eastern coastal state of Orissa.

The macabre killing that has resulted in the wanton anti-Church violence in the jungle-infested Kandhamal district has already put a big question-mark on the political will and administrative capability of Naveen Patnaik government in handling the situation. Now, Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) would turn the table to target Congress and its chief Sonia Gandhi.

Fifty four days after the Swami was slain by a group of masked men on the rain-soaked Janmasthami night in his ashram, the crime branch of the state police on Thursday claimed that it has now identified the ‘master-mind’ who at the moment is out of Orissa. 

Arun Roy, the Inspector-General of crime branch said that the conspiracy was hatched six months before the attack and Janmasthami was fixed to ‘execute’ 84-year-old Swami Lakshamananda who was carrying on anti-conversion and re-conversion campaign. According to Roy a detailed blueprint was drawn up by one local group while another group was assigned the task of killing him. The group used three to four Maoist guerrillas as mercenaries and money had changed hand.

The group that gunned down the spiritual leader was led by the Maoists while the rest of team comprised local youth. The Swami along with four of his disciples was sprayed with bullets, fired from AK-47. Later to ensure his death the killers slit the veins at ankles. Quickly the CPI (Maoist) had claimed responsibility for the killing.

Incidentally the crime branch’s revelation came a day after VHP national spokesperson Surendra Jain alleged in Delhi that the conspiracy was hatched in the ‘presence of Congress Rajya Sabha member R. K. Nayak’. The IG (CB) without naming the ‘master-mind’ or the religious identity of the killers said that a chargesheet would soon be filed in this connection.

Only last week Sabyasachi Panda alias Sunil, secretary of the Orissa division of the CPI (Maoists) had told a group of journalists inside the jungles that top three leaders of Sangh Parivar-BJP leader LK Advani and VHP leaders Ashok Singhal and Praveen Togadia were on their ‘hit-list’.

‘We will kill the trio whenever we get the chance’. The ‘most wanted’ underground leader reiterated that they executed the Swami because he was responsible for the persecution and forced re-conversion of Dalit-Christians. The state Maoist chief made it clear that they were angry with the Hindutava outfits for conducting forced re-conversion.

The killing of Lakshamananda had led to violence against the Christians as the RSS-VHP believed that Christians, not the Maoists, were behind the killing. According to All India Christian Council (AICC) so far over 50 people have been slain, 300 villages have been cleansed of all Pana-Christians and 17,000 sheltered in government’s refugee camps have been told they can go home only if they become Hindus.

Besides, more than 4,000 houses and more than 100 churches have been burnt. The council said ‘Orissa seems not to be a part of India where the rule of law operates, and the Indian Constitution remains operative’.

A senior Home Dept official pointed out the present strife between Dalit-Panas, mostly Christians and Kondh tribe, mostly Hindus or pro-Hindus, was the outcome of a cocktail of social, ethnic and religious divide that helped Maoists to set up their base.

While over 1200 Churches and 400 Christian institutions became an eyesore for Hindutava forces, conversion indeed had been a strong issue that had helped Sangh Parivar to strengthen its roots in Orissa and helped BJP to capture power in alliance with Biju Janata Dal. The decadal census figures of Kandhamal confirm what RSS-VHP had been apprehending ‘abnormal’ increase in the number of Christians.

On the other hand the Centre had threatened to invoke Article 356 of the Constitution to dismiss Naveen Patnaik government as it had failed to protect the life and property of Christian minority.

Now with the police claiming to have solved the case and identified the ‘master-mind’, political circles in Bhubaneswar believe that police might lay its hands either on R. K. Nayak or his men.

Nayak, a former bureaucrat, was considered the chief patron of Pana Christians and protector of the Church in the district. Nayak who served the Central government as Secretary was short-listed for the post of Union Cabinet Secretary during H. D. Deve Gowda government. Being a Dalit-Christian socialist, leaders including Ramvilas Paswan and Sharad Yadav had backed his candidature then. However some adverse IB report against him came as a hurdle. In 2004 he was elected to Rajya Sabha on Congress ticket.

Hindutava forces always suspected his hand behind the killing. Political observers said that if he is named in the case then the BJD-BJP government would be killing two birds with a single stone. In one stroke it would shatter Congress in the Lok Sabha and Assembly polls due next year while the NDA would gain. Alleged involvement of Nayak would also help BJP to target Sonia Gandhi. After all everything is fair in politics and war. (India Today)

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