Bhubaneswar, Oct 3 IANS | 10 months ago

A court in Odisha Thursday sentenced eight persons, including a Maoist, to life in prison for the murder of a Hindu leader and four of his aides in 2008, a lawyer said.


The special additional district sessions court at Phulbani, the headquarters of Kandhamal district, about 200 km from state capital Bhubaneswar, also imposed a fine of Rs.10,000 on each of them, prosecution lawyer Ramesh Mohanty told IANS.

Those awarded the jail term and fine are Duryodhan Suna Majhi, Munda Bada Majhi, Sanatan Bada Majhi, Garnatha Chalanseth, Bijay Kumar Samseth, Bhaskar Suna Majhi and Budhadev Nayak and Pulari Rama Rao alias Uday.

Rama Rao alias Uday was a Maoist leader while others are local residents, the prosecution lawyer said. The same court pronounced Rama Rao guilty on OCT 1 while it convicted others a day earlier. The court said it would pronounce the quantum of punishment Thursday.

Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati and his four aides were killed at their ashram by then unidentified gunmen at Jaleshpata in Kandhamal district Aug 23, 2008.

Five accused, including Maoist leader Sabyasachi Panda, wanted for the crime, are still untraced and on the run, police said.

The convicts said they committed the crime as, according to them, Saraswati was forcing Christians to convert to Hinduism, he said.

The killing of Saraswati and his aides triggered communal violence in the state, in which at least 38 people were killed.

(Posted on 03-10-2013)