Bhubaneswar, Aug 17: The opposition BJP has renewed demands that those involved in the murder of a Hindu leader and four of his aides in the state five years ago be arrested and brought to justice.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Ashok Sahu said Saturday that he had written a letter to Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik a day ago, reminding him of the written assurance he had given them a few months after the brutal murders in Jalespata village in Kandhamal district Aug 23, 2008.
Patnaik had asserted, at the time, his government’s commitment to solve the crimes expeditiously, after evidence against the culprits was gathered.
“Five years is a long time to bring the killers to book. The killers and the conspirators for these brutal murders are still at large,” Sahu told IANS.
The BJP leader said he had given the state government a seven-day deadline for the arrest of all those involved in the murders.
“After having waited so long, l have decided to resort to silent and passive protest, and will go on a fast unto death in Kandhamal, observing total silence, as soon as the one-week deadline elapses,” he said.
Kandhamal, about 200 km from the state capital, witnessed widespread communal violence after the murder of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader and saint Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati and four of his aides at his ashram.
The crime branch of the state police arrested seven people in connection with the crime in 2008, and a chargesheet against them was filed the following year. Sahu, however, said the main accused and all those who conspired in the killings are still at large.
At least 38 people were killed and more than 25,000 Christians were forced to flee their homes in 2008 after their houses were attacked by mobs in Kandhamal. The violence followed Saraswati’s killing.