Kandhamal riots report submitted to Odisha government

Bhubaneswar, Dec 22 (IANS) The Justice A.S. Naidu Commission of Inquiry, set up by the Odisha government to probe the 2008 Kandhamal riots, presented its report to the state government on Tuesday.

The Kandhamal riots had hogged international headlines for the ethno communal riot between Hindus and Christians in 2008.

Secretary of the commission A.K. Patnaik handed over the 1020-page report to state home secretary Asit Tripathy at the secretariat here.

“The commission has compiled the final report in two volumes with a total of 1,020 pages. During the investigation, a total of 825 affidavits were filed while 300 people had deposed before the commission as witnesses of which 78 are government employees and 222 general public,” Patnaik told reporters after presenting the report.

He said the commission, in the course of its investigation, verified documents running into about 4,000 pages.

The state government had constituted the panel on September 8, 2008 after the ethno communal riots broke out in Kandhamal district and other parts of the state following the murder of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Swami Lakshmanananda Saraswati and four of his associates at his Chakapada Ashram on August 23, 2008.

The killing had triggered communal violence in Kandhamal and adjoining areas in which at least 38 people were killed, said sources.

Initially, Justice Sarat Chandra Mohapatra was entrusted with the inquiry. But after his death Justice A.S. Naidu was appointed to head the one-man probe panel in 2012.

“I have given some suggestions to the government to maintain communal harmony in the area,” said Justice Naidu, adding that it appears there was involvement of Maoists in the killing of the VHP leader.

He also said the state government had taken possible security measures to control the riot.

The commission was entrusted to probe the sequence of events and circumstances leading to the murder of Saraswati and the role of individuals and organisations in precipitating the riots.

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