Justice on Trial, an Ahmedabad-based NGO comprising of former judges, police officers, advocates and social workers, has alleged the hands of church and Christian missionaries in the murder of Swami Laxmanananda in Kandhamal district of Orissa on the eve of Janmashtami. Talking to mediapersons in New Delhi, the team of the NGO, which had visited Kandhamal after the riots in December last year, said various theories are being propagated through various angles and the media, intelligentsia and common man are being made confused.
The team comprised of Sardar G.S. Gill, Additional Advocate General of Rajasthan, Shri P.C. Dogra, former Director General of Punjab Police, Smt. Nafisa Hussein, former Member of National Commission for Women, Captain M.K. Andhare, social activist, and Shri Ram Kishor Pasari, a social engineer. This team visited Kandhamal initially from January 18 to 21 and subsequently Bhuwaneshwar between January 25 and 27. At that time the committee interviewed Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati, Archbishop Raphel Chenath, leaders of the ?Phulbani Jan Kalyan Sangh? Kui Sanskritik, Kondh Surakhya Manch, local MLAs, political and social leaders and intellectuals, in addition to local residents of Kandhamal district. Report in this regard was released at a public function on February 7, 2008, at Bhubaneshwar. Since this report in the present scenario becomes more important and relevant, it was again circulated to the media.
There is a controversy regarding the attacking agency of Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati. His own statement in this regard becomes very relevant. Swamiji told the committee that his devotion and work for the uplift of Vanvasis and bringing the converted Vanvasis back to their original roots, i.e., Hinduism, had given the Christian missionaries a reason to tarnish his image and earlier they had attacked him eight times because he was opposing the clandestine proselytisation activities of the Christians in that area. He said, ?First attack on my life took place on January 26, 1970. I had to hide myself in a school for more than three hours. Nobody came to my rescue. Then I thought, so many Hindus were there but nobody came forward at the time of adversity. Then I pledged to awaken them and kindle a light in their soul. I established Bhaghat Tungi, Radha Krishna Idols, evening prayer centres in different villages. Besides, I taught the people how to cultivate their lands properly, worship the mother cow, save forests etc. Vanvasis are simple, innocent and truthful persons. The missionaries initially give money to them for conversion but thereafter the poor Hindus are exploited like anything and are told by missionaries that each converted Christian has to give one mutthi rice (a handful of rice) everyday for the church; first calf of the cow has to be donated to the church. Missionaries have vowed to make this place a Christian land but I have pledged to reconvert this scenic spot into a united Hindu area.? Swamiji had a vast following and the Hindu Vanvasis of Kandhamal had deep-rooted faith in him. Even the statement of Archbishop Raphel Chenath corroborates the above.
Answering to a question, why government didn'ttake any action against Swamiji, while Congress was in power at the centre during 90?s, Shri Chenath replied, ?Although the government then ordered the arrest of Swamiji, he couldn'tbe put behind the bars due to immense public pressure. He said, ?There would have been bloodshed if Swamiji had been arrested.? An enquiry further revealed that the earlier incidents of December 2007 were imminent and abrupt repercussion of the attacks on Swamiji. A CD showing relevant part of interview of Swamiji elaborating the above was provided to the press.