All eight convicts in the heinous murder of Hindu Seer and VHP leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati, have been sentenced to life by the Phulbani ADJ court today. They were found guilty of the murder on Monday.
The convicts, who were sentenced to life, included Maoist Pulari Rama Rao alias Udaya, Bijaya Kumar Sanaseth, Buddhadev Naik, Sanatan Badamajhi, Duryodhan Sunamajhi, Bhaskar Sunamajhi, Munda Badamajhi and Gadanath Chalanseth. They all hail from Kotagarh and Tumudibandh blocks in tribal-dominated Kandhamal.
The court had acquitted Somanath Dandasena alias Jadu of Chandraput of Rayagada district for lack of evidence. Five more people, including Maoist leader Sabyasachi Panda, who are the accused in this case, are still on the run.
Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati was killed at his Jalespata Ashram in Kandhamal on August 23, 2008 along with four of his aides. The brutal crime was carried out by a section of Maoists that had the support of Christians and Dalits. Swamiji was targeted because of his strong opposition to conversion and cow slaughter.
The murder of Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati had led to Kandhamal riots, which left 38 dead and thousands homeless. The riots triggered a global outrage, bringing a bad name to the Odisha government. There were allegations against an influential Congress leader in the region, who reportedly a play key role in Laxmanananda’s assassination. However, no case could be filed against him due to lack of evidence.