Bhubaneswar: Senior BJP leader and former
minister B B Harichandan on Friday blamed Orissa Home Department
headed by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik for not activating the
Central Para-Military Force during the 2008 Kandhamal riot.
As the CPMF remained inactive, the riot spread from
one place to another, Harichandan, who was the state Law and
Revenue Minister at the time of the communal violence, told
the judicial commission of inquiry headed by Justice S C
Mohapatra on its second day of hearing.
"Though the CPMF were camping at Tumidibandha, barely
2 km away Jalespeta ashram of Swami Laxmananda Saraswati, the
Home Department did not make the force operational," he said.
Harichandan said the CPMF jawans at Tumidibandha had
remained inactive as their operation period had expired on
July 31, 2008.
"It was the duty of the Chief Minister to extend the
operation period of the CPMF by taking up the matter with the
Ministry of Home Affairs. But Patnaik did not take any step in
this regard," the former minister said.
The riots broke out after the killing of the
octogenarian Swami, who was a VHP leader, on the night of
The former minister was grilled by lawyers
representating CPI, a respondent in the case. "Why you did not
take up the matter as a minister?" the lawyers asked him.
"As a minister, was it not the collective
responsibility to ensure that the riot did not spread?" he was
also asked to which Harichandan did not reply.
He was also grilled about his silence after the riot.