7 convicted in Swami Laxmanananda murder case

Phulbani: The Phulbani additional district & sessions court on Monday convicted seven persons in connection with Swami Laxamanananda Saraswati’s murder case. The quantum of punishment will be pronounced on October 3.
 
Additional District Judge Rajendra Kumar Tosh found the seven guilty and reserved the order for pronouncement of the quantum of punishment for October three.
The court is scheduled to deliver the verdict in case of two other accused Pulari Rama Rao and Somanath Dandasena in the case tomorrow.
 
The seven convicted are Gadanath Chalanseth, Bijaya Kumar Shyamseth, Buddha Nayak, Sanatan Badamajhi, Duryadhan Sunamajhi, Bhaskar Sunamajhi and Munda Badamajhi. Besides murder and criminal conspiracy, the seven were convicted under different provisions of IPC for offences including rioting with deadly weapons and unlawful assembly.
 
They were also held guilty under several provision of the Arms Act.
 
In view of possible tension, the district administration has tightened security in and around the court.
 
In 2008, Saraswati and four of his followers were gunned down on August 23 while celebrating Janmastami festival at Jalespata Ashram of Chakapada in Kandhamal, a tribal-dominated district.
 
The Hindu seer’s killing had led to widespread communal violence in Kandhamal claiming at least 38 lives, burning of several houses and damage to many churches.
More than 25,000 Christians were forced to flee their homes after their houses were attacked by mobs, who accused Christians for killing Saraswati.
 
Notably, twenty-five persons allegedly involved in the Kandhamal communal riots were acquitted by a local court in June 2012 due to lack of proper evidence against them.
 
In November last, a fast-track court in Phulbani had sentenced 12 people to six years' imprisonment after they were convicted of being involved in the riots.
 
(With agency inputs)