Laxmanananda murder probe: Court slams tardy police probe

May 17th, 2011 - 11:56 pm ICT by IANS  

Bhubaneswar, May 17 (IANS) The Orissa High Court Tuesday expressed its displeasure over the way the state police was probing the 2008 murder of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Laxmanananda Saraswati in Kandhamal, a killing which had triggered massive riots in the district, a lawyer said.

Hearing a plea filed by Madhab Chaitanya, a disciple of the slain Hindu leader, the court also directed the state crime branch to submit an affidavit detailing the status of its probe by June 29.

Senior lawyer M.N. Krishnamani, appearing for Chaitanya, told the court that the investigating agency has not able to identify and arrest all the culprits involved in the crime.

“The court expressed its displeasure the way the crime branch is investigating the crime,” lawyer Sarbeswar Behera, who is assisting Krishnamani, told IANS.

The crime branch had earlier claimed that about 25 people were involved in the crime whereas it filed chargesheets against only 14 persons, of them seven were still absconding, he said.

“The crime branch has also not been able to identify who the remaining people were,” he said.

Saraswati and four of his aides were killed by a group of unidentified assailants at his ashram at Jaleshpata Aug 23, 2008.

Police filed a chargesheet against seven people in a local court in January 2009.

Chaitanya filed the petition in the high court in the same year demanding an independent probe into the killing, Behera said. A single bench of Justice Sanju Panda directed the crime branch to widen its investigation, he said.

The killing of Saraswati triggered communal violence in Kandhmal in which at least 38 people were killed.

More than 25,000 Christians were forced to flee their homes after their houses were attacked by rampaging mobs, who held Christians responsible for Saraswati’s killing although police blamed the Maoists.

The crime branch earlier this month filed a second charge sheet against seven more people including against wanted Maoist leader Sabyasachi Panda.

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