Murder of Swami Lakshmanananda - Investigations

Investigations

The government announced a special investigative probe into the attack.

The police have arrested Pradesh Kumar Das, an employee of the World Vision, a Christian Charity, from Khadagpur while escaping from the district at Buguda. In another drive, two other persons Vikram Digal and William Digal have been arrested from the house of Lal Digal, a local militant Christian, from Nuasahi at Gunjibadi, Nuagaan. They have admitted to having joined a group of 28 other assailants.

On August 28, a letter of denial was received by a some media outlets, the VHP office in the Gajapati District of Orissa and the Bajrang Dal from a Maoist group. While the letter denied that the Central Committee of the Kotagarha branch of the Maoists had approved the attack, it claimed that some Maoists may have been bribed by Christians to launch the attack. Soon after the appearance of the aforementioned letter, Azad, a leader of the Maoist People's Liberation Guerrilla Army, claimed responsibility for the murder of Lakshmanananda. Azad was suspected by the police of leading the attack himself. On September 9, 2008 the Maoists, who work underground, made an official press release claiming responsibility for the killing of Lakshmanananda. A few claims that Maoist sympathizers of south Orissa had initially denied the role of CPI-Maoist were made in the murder of VHP leaders that sparked off communal violence in Kandhamnal district. Communist Party of India (Maoist) leader Sabyasachi Panda claimed that they killed Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati and four of his disciples at his Jalespeta ashram on 23 August .

On Wednesday July 22, 2009, a young Maoist couple, Surendra and Ruppi Pidikka alias Jaya Venkwara claimed to have been involved in the Swami's killing and surrendered to the Orissa police.

Reconstructing the final moments of the killing of VHP leader Laxmanananda Saraswati and his four associates in Kandhamal’s Jalespeta ashram in August 2008, Orissa police said that a Maoist who surrendered this week claimed there were four policemen at the ashram but they fled when the Maoists announced that they had come looking for the Swami. Four of the six Maoists who carried out the attack were from Chhattisgarh, the police were told. Rayagada SP Ashis Kumar Singh said Surendra Brekwada alias Dasu, who surrendered with his wife Ruppi Pidikka alias Jaya, told them that a six-member crack team of the Maoists, led by Orissa CPI (Maoist) leader Azad alias Duna Keshav Rao, reached Jalespeta ashram on August 23 evening and came across four lathi-wielding policemen. Brekwada, a sharpshooter, was one of the six who allegedly killed the 82-year-old Laxmanananda, Kishore Baba (45), Amritananda Baba (62), Mata Bhaktimayee (40) and Puranjan Ganthi (28), brother of one of the girl inmates of the tribal residential school.

In spite of claims that the case of Swamiji's murder has been solved, it is widely believed to be a cover up, based on doubts expressed by several senior investigators and experts on left-wing extremism. Subash Chouhan, national co-convener of the Bajrang Dal, refused to accept that the Maoists were responsible, saying "Why all of a sudden so many days after the incident has come and spoken to the television channels?".

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