Investigative book ‘Who killed Swami Laxmanananda?’ authored by senior journalist Anto Akkara, came in for wide acclaim at its release in Bangalore on July 23 with eminent jurist and former Advocate-General of Karnataka Ravivarma Kumar describing it as a ‘wake up call for the nation’.
“The content of the book has grave implications for Indian democracy,’ remarked Kumar while releasing the investigative book on Kandhamal conflagration along with Gauri Lankesh- editor of ‘Lankesh Patrika, and Fr Ambrose Pinto, eminent social commentator.
Commenting on the book that carries Foreword by veteran journalist Kuldip Nayar, the jurist pointed out: “The legislature and the executive have lost credibility, and the Judiciary is the last bastion of hope for the nation.”
“A disaster is unfolding on the nation. We need to wake up, even if just five of us or a handful, and we must fight any injustice so that justice is upheld,” he cautioned.
Nearly 100 Christian had been killed, 300 churches destroyed and 6,000 Christians houses plundered and torched in unabated violence that went for three months and displaced more than 56,000 Christians as a fallout of the orchestrated rumour that the swami’s murder was a Christian conspiracy.
Dissecting the questionable judgment that convicted seven innocent Christians to life imprisonment for the murder of 81-year old Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati (on Janmashtami night of 2008), the senior lawyer pointed out that there was ‘no eyewitness to the murder and hardly any evidence.’
The ‘very weak testimony’ of a student of Sanskrit in the Swami’s ashram, who was 13 at the time of the incident and was examined 3 ½ years after it, and which the judge decides to accept as credible as in his own words, “being a student of Sanskrit her memory would be very good”, he added.
“Even on a cursory reading (of the book), it is clear that there has been an abuse of the judicial process. We look to the judiciary for some semblance of law to be upheld but the situation is now very worrying,” lamented outspoken editor Gauri . “I congratulate Anto Akkara for bringing the shocking facts about Kandhamal to the national with his arduous research,” Gauri said.
“There are many similarities between Godhra and Orissa incidents. Both had Praveen Togadia as a common factor. There was organised violence targeting the Minorities. They claimed that in both cases the response was a spontaneous reaction from the mobs to the incidents that provoked the violence,” Gauri pointed out.
The Sangh Private targets, she noted, “Muslims, Christians, Dalits, Leftists, Women….anyone who doesn’t fit their idea of Hindu. Our faith is in our secular Constitution.”
“This book lays out the agenda of hate of the Sangh Parivar,” commented Fr Ambrose Pinto, eminent Jesuit social analyst, referring to how the author has proved that the Swami’s murder and subsequent conflagration was a well-planned conspiracy.
“The Sangh Parivar acquires power through hate. This is a struggle between the forces of hierarchy and equality. Those in power are trying to retain it through spreading hate,” remarked Pinto, former director of Indian Social Institute in New Delhi.
He recalled that the Sangh Parivar had been associated with anti-national activities and the spreading of hate since pre-Independence times. They had cooperated with the colonisers, were active in anti-Muslim violence during Partition, and later in Gandhiji’s assassination.
“Anto’s book is part of the struggle between powerful vested interests promoting inequality and hierarchy versus equality,” he noted.
Journalist author Akkara, with a multimedia presentation, gave out chilling facts about the Kandhamal fraud with the ‘supari’ murder of the swami and seven innocent Christians – six of them illiterates – being convicted to life imprisonment by a fraudulent trial to perpetrate the fraud that the swami’s murder was a Christian conspiracy.
“Nearly three years after the murder, their appeal is yet to come up hearing in Odisha High Court. The verdict was given by a third judge after two Fast Track Court judges were transferred,” Akkara pointed out.
“The conviction of the seven innocents without a shred of evidence against them is a blot on the judicial system of the country,” lamented Akkara urging all present to sign the online petition for their release at www.release7 innocents.com.
Though Maoists had claimed responsibility, the book points out, prosecution chose to indict Christians. The book shows how the Sangh Parivar had engineered the violence, hoping the Central government would dismiss the Odisha government in which the BJP was a coalition partner then. That would have given them advantage in the national elections in 2009.
But alerted to this game-plan by intelligence reports, the UPA government refrained, derailing the Sangh’s wild expectations. Media and political circles are very cautious in reporting anything on this book or its contents. The author said he wanted the truth to prevail and that the seven men serving a life sentences for a crime they did not commit must be released.
HD Deve Gowda, former 84-year old Prime Minister who had confirmed his attendance even on July 23 morning to release the book did not turn up due to ‘indisposition’.
Cynthia Stephen is an Independent Writer and Researcher.