Bhubaneswar: Senior BJP leader and
former minister B B Harichandan told the Justice S C Mohapatra
inquiry commission on Saturday that he had requested Orissa Chief
Minister Naveen Patnaik to enhance the security for Swami
Laxmananda Saraswati, whose killing in August 2008 sparked off
the communal riots in Kandhamal.
Harichandan, who was the state law and revenue
minister during the riot, said he had also asked Patnaik to
extend central para military force operation in Kandhamal and
hold cabinet meeting on the issue.
"The chief minister cannot shift the blame for
Kandhamal riot in the name of collective responsibility of the
council of ministers," Harichandan said this while deposing
before the commission for the third consecutive day.
Harichandan was the second ex-minister to depose
before the commission after the then food and supply minister
Both Harichandan and Samal blamed Patnaik for `poor
handling` of the riot situation which continued for about a
month resulting in killing of at least 43 persons.
Harichandan had not filed any affidavit before the
commission before he was summoned. The commission summoned
Harichandan after the release of book `Faith Under Fire` by
Archbishop Rapheal Cheenath.
Later Harichandan told reporters "I have requested
Justice Mohapatra to summon the chief minister to know about
certain facts which could not be answered by me."
Asked why he did not resign from the ministry if he was
unhappy over the manner in which the chief minister handled
the riot, Harichandan said "Patnaik had assured me and also
the union government that the situation would be controlled
soon and culprits involved in the killing of Saraswati would
be arrested. Therefore, I waited for the action."
The BJP leader had yesterday blamed the state home
department, which is held by the chief minister himself, for
not activating the central paramilitary force during the riot.
As a result, the riot had spread, he had told the
Meanwhile, special counsel for the state government,
B K Patnaik told newsmen that though Harichandan had responded
to the commission`s summons and submitted an affidavit before
coming for deposition, he had not raised issues like the chief
minister`s `inept` handling of the situation or his request to
the government to extend operation by the central paramilitary
Asked whether he would summon the chief minister in
view of the demands made by Harichandan, Justice Mohapatra
said "I am examining his statements. If necessary, the
commission may issue summon to the chief minister."