Senior journalist Anto Akkara, in his book on Kandhamal riots titled ‘Kandhamal — a blot on Indian Secularism,’ has claimed that the funeral procession of Swami Lakshmanananda, who was assassinated by unidentified people, was purposely taken from all villages in order to incite communal disharmony.
Excerpted from the book, it is said that the specific date – August 23, 2008 – and day were purposely chosen by Swami’s followers as they wanted to gift to the Lord, for his sadistic pleasure, the assassinated body of a Hindu monk and his four associates as it was the eve of Sri Krishna Janmashtami and of the foundation day of Vishwa Hindu Parishad.
Akkara said, “The Swami was killed at Tumudibandh, and the funeral procession was taken all over the place in order to incite communal passion. Very few arrests were made at first and, when I inquired after six months, no progress had been made. After nine months, the victims who fled were told that if they didn’t convert to Hinduism they wouldn’t be allowed to enter their villages.” He also asserted that, in Kandhamal, people are turning hostile as they are being threatened. “It would be better to shift the case out of Odisha,” he opined.
Just like the investigation into the Samjautha Express and Malegaon blast case, which was handed over to the National Investigation Agency (NIA), the activists including Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Mumbai, Maulana Mustaqim Azmi, President of Jamat Uliema Kandhamal, Mahesh Bhatt, Abraham Mathai, VC State Minorities Commission, in a press conference on Wednesday, demanded that the pogrom of 2008 in Odisha (then Orissa) should be classified as an act of terror and the case should be handed over to the NIA as well. The activists have written to the Indian PM to let NIA handle the case.
“There are three enemies of our country – corruption, terrorism, and communalism – and for the country’s progress we have to fight them,” Cardinal Oswald Gracias.
Post the Kandhamal riots about 56,000 people were rendered homeless, 400 villages purged, 100 people murdered, 296 churches torched and 6,000 houses destroyed. Of the 3,223 complaints filed by the victims only 831 were registered by the police. 2,400 cases are yet to be registered.