Watch this short NDTV video with the reporter interviewing the tribals and what they are saying. video documentary
Kandhmal: Mystery surrounds Swami’s death
Wednesday, September 03, 2008, (Bhubaneswar)The death of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Swami Laxmananand has set Orissa’s Kandhmal district on fire.
But the flames have intensified the mystery over who was behind the killing of the Swami and his four disciples.
First, the police suggested that it was the work of Naxal groups. But now, they have changed their stand.
The police may say it’s a wide open debate but questions are now being raised over whether the government failed to see the warning signs building up in the district in the run up to the killings.
In July this year, in Kandhmal district’s Malipada village, a rally held by the Christian Pano community demanded the ouster of Swami Laxmananand from the district for spreading communal hatred.
Panos are Scheduled Caste Christians who have a decent number in Kandhmal and have been locked in a conflict with the Vishwa Hindu Parishad over conversions.
Their latest protest comes after the Swami had demanded the arrest of the Christian Panos who attacked one of his disciples on July 8 when he objected to cow slaughter in an open field.
A former MP from Kandhmal, Nakul Nayak, who is a member of the Christian Pano community, had told NDTV in July that they were planning protests against the Swami for his alleged role in the communal and ethnic riots in Kandhmal the previous year in which three people were killed.
“We have given 10 days time to the district administration to take action against him. If within 10 days they don’t take action against him then we will sit under the banner and name of Kandhmal Mool Vasinda Manch (Original Inhabitants’ Front) and we will decide on a future course of action against him,” Nakul had said.
The protests also saw Dalit Christian leaders delivering fiery speeches, which carry an incitement to violence. But the Swami who was in his Jalespata Kanyashram was unmoved.
In an interview to NDTV given a month before he was killed, the slain VHP leader was very clear about his own agenda.
“Their design to convert large tract of our land into a Christian kingdom was dashed when God sent me here from the Himalayas. That’s why they want me out of the district. That will make their task easy. But as long as I am alive I’ll not allow that to happen and make sure they are driven out from this district,” he had said.
But even after he told the local police on the August 22 about the death threat he had received through a letter, no attempt was made to strengthen his security.
He was killed the next day along with four others inside his ashram.
Police say there is no evidence linking Swami Laxmananand Saraswati’s killing with the campaign against him. But sources in the police say the Maoists who are active in this area may have carried out the operation to appease the pre-dominantly Christian population who form their support base.