“Lakshmanananda was forcing tribals to convert to Hinduism”
Demands resignation of Naveen Patnaik
KANDHAMAL: The Orissa State committee of the Communist Party of India (Maoist) on Saturday claimed that it killed Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Swami Lakshmanananda in Kandhamal district on August 23.
Talking to a team of journalists from Bhubaneswar in a forest in Kandhamal, the spokesperson of the party’s Orissa unit, Sabyasachi Panda, alias Sunil, said it became necessary to eliminate the Swami as he was forcing tribals and Dalit Christians in Kandhamal to convert to Hinduism.
“After the December 2007 communal violence in Kandhamal, we threatened to kill him if he and his supporters did not refrain from harassing tribals and Dalit Christians to change their religion,” said Mr. Panda.
The action was taken as he continued with his activities in different parts of the district. Mr. Panda claimed that the members of the People’s Liberation Guerilla Army (PLGA) left two letters at the spot at Jalaspata ashram, claiming responsibility for killing the Swami. “The government, however, suppressed the letters to help rioters continue with their attacks on the minority community,” he said.
Clarifying that the CPI (Maoist) was not responsible for the ongoing anti-Christian violence in the district, Mr. Panda said the VHP, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and the Bharatiya Janata Party had caused the violence in their attempt to strengthen their vote bank.
He accused Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik of supporting the ‘RSS-VHP-Sangh’ which killed Christians and destroyed their property in the wake of the murder of the VHP leader.
“Naveen Patnaik should immediately step down as Chief Minister for his government’s failure to protect the life and property of innocent people,” he said.
Mr. Panda reiterated his party’s threat to eliminate 14 local leaders of the VHP/RSS and their allied organisations if they did not stop the violence in Kandhamal and end forcible conversion of tribals and Dalits. Tribals were not Hindus, he said.
“After communal violence broke out in Kandhamal, we called up media houses and issued statements claiming responsibility for killing the Swami but the communal forces refused to accept our claim,” Mr. Panda said.
He criticised other political parties for not raising their voice against the communal violence for fear of losing their majority vote bank.
Stating that their party was against all religions, including Hinduism, he accused the ‘VHP-RSS-Sangh’ of poisoning the minds of members of the majority community.