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Monday, October 06, 2008

Most of Maoist cadre are Christians

Pioneer News Service | Bhubaneswar

Advani, Singhal, Togadia are 'natural targets', not Naveen, says Orissa Naxal chief

A section of Maoists has claimed responsibility for the murder of VHP's 86-year-old monk Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati. Claiming responsibility, a prominent Maoist leader Sabyasachi Panda, who is in the "most wanted" list, said the Maoist groups in Orissa derive major support from minority communities. "There was pressure from both Christians and Dalits to eliminate VHP leader Laxmanananda Saraswati," he reportedly told to a group of journalists, who met him at an undisclosed location. Panda is the secretary of the State organising committee of CPI (Maoist).

"We killed him as he did not pay any heed to Maoists' warning," he said, adding that the Maoist group had asked Swami to desist from anti-Christian activities. The original inhabitants of Kandhamal district are Kandhas and Panas. While Kandhas are mostly tribals, most of the Panas have converted to Christianity.

Noting that most of the cadre members and supporters in Orissa belonged to Christian community, Panda said, "It is a fact that Christians are in majority in our organisation. Our supporters in Rayagada, Gajapati and Kandhamal districts also belong to Christian community."

Panda further alleged that Laxmanananda was responsible for riot in December 25, 2007 and subsequently targeted people indulging in cow slaughter and people of both the communities were opposed to the seer.

The Maoist leader, however, pointed out that though Christians were major support base of the outfit in Orissa, the situation was not similar across the country. However, he was quick to add that Maoists never believe in any religion. "We do not believe in any religion or are attached to any religious groups. We are not in favour of any religion," he said claiming Laxmanananda was working to revive Brahminism, which was almost disappearing. However, he categorically denied that Naveen was their target.

"It is a fact that we are angry with Patnaik for running the Government in Orissa at the instructions of the BJP leaders. But he is not on our radar."

Branding Sangh Parivar as a 'fundamentalist' group, Panda has said senior BJP leader LK Advani, VHP's Ashok Singal and Pravin Togadia are "natural targets" of the Left-wing extremists as they are instigating communal passion. "Maoists were in search of an opportunity to eliminate the three leaders "as they are instigating communal passion in the country".

He further said as they could not kill the leaders as they come to meet people with CRPF jawans, "we will kill the trio whenever a chance is available," Panda said.

He also admitted that Maoists had for the first time intervened in any religious dispute by killing Laxmanananda Saraswati. "We want to create a casteless society devoid of exploitation where the people would not face discrimination of any kind," he said.

Reacting on this issue, BJP leader Venkaiah Naidu said he should come forward and make an open statement. "We cannot believe in a person who is hiding," he said.

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