Saraswati killing: Police had threat letter info after murder

Bhubaneswar: Orissa Police had no idea about a threat letter to Laxamananda Saraswati before his killing last year even though the VHP leader was provided security on recommendation of a state security panel.

Though the Crime Branch of Police had been probing the killing since a year, it had no information regarding the "Pahari Group" which had allegedly issued the threatening letter to the VHP leader two days before the killing.

While Saraswati and four of his associates were shot dead at their Jalespeta ashram in Kandhamal on August 23, 2008 evening, one Pahari Group had given a letter on August 21, 2008 threatening dire consequences for the VHP leader.

"As far as I know, a letter was found from Pahari Group that threatened Saraswati with dire consequences," chief of Crime Branch and IGP Arun Kumar Ray told the Commission of Inquiry during cross examination.

Ray and then IGP (Law and Order) Pradeep Kapoor were today cross examined by the advocate at the Commission of Inquiry headed by Justice S C Mohapatra.

"After the killing, the police headquarters, however, received information regarding such a letter to Saraswati," Kapoor said during the cross-examination.

Saraswati was provided security according to recommendation of the state level security committee.

Both the officers claimed that though they later came to know that Maoists were involved in the Saraswati killing, none had any knowledge about the Pahari Group or possible threat from Maoists.

They too did not confirm whether the people arrested in Saraswati kiling case, had any link with "Pahari Group".

Replying to a question on how the police concluded that Maoists played a role in the kilings, Kapoor said, "A joint report of Kandhamal Additional District Magistrate (ADM) and the Additional Superintendent of Police (ASP) indicated that the crime was committed by Maoists".

"In addition to the kind of weapons used, nature of injuries and the number of persons involved in the attack raised suspicion about Maoist involvement in the Saraswati murder case", Kapoor said.

The CB chief Ray said, " Investigation so far revealed that Maoist and local militia who are sympathisers of Maoists killer Saraswati".

"The culprits officially propagated through press statements that Laxamanananda was killed as he was fanning communalism in Kandhamal district," Ray said in his affidavit.

Replying to a question on possible involvement of individuals, groups or organisation in Kandhamal district, he said, "It was evident that there was increased activities of CPI (Maoist) in Kandhamal district".

Bureau Report