'Saraswati was messiah for tribal Hindus in Kandhamal'
Bhubaneswar: Slain VHP leader Laxamananda
Saraswati was regarded as a messiah by Hindu tribals but
minorities disliked him for his campaign against conversion
and cow slaughter, a commission probing his killing was told
"Saraswati was considered a messiah by Hindus due his
activities for protection of cows, halt to religious
conversions and protection of tribal rights," Hemant Rao, who
was officer-in-charge at Phulbani Sadar police station during
last year's riot, told the judicial commission headed by
Justice S C Mohapatra.
On the other hand, a section of people, particularly
minorities, disliked Saraswati's activities, he said.
"The people in Kandhamal also believed that Hindu
religion survived in the district on account of activities of
Saraswati," Rao said during cross examination.
Noting that the supporters and followers of Saraswati
attacked houses and churches when his body was being taken in
procession on August 24, 2008 through Phulbani town, Rao said
about 1,000 people had assembled to pay homage to the VHP
"I apprehended sharp reaction from Hindus to
Saraswati's killing as they believed that Christians had
killed him," Rao said.
This feeling surfaced in December 2007 when Saraswati
was attacked on Christmas eve at Daringbadi in Kandhamal.
The police officer said he had registered 20 cases and
arrested nine people after getting prima facie involvement in
attack and arson on houses and churches.
Rao, however, said there was no report relating to
religious conversion at the police station.
The officer in his affidavit also used words like
'radicals' and 'mischievous' while describing the followers of
Saraswati who went berserk after his killing on August 23,
"The statement of the field level police officer on
the impression of the local people on Saraswati will help me
in the probe," Justice Mohapatra said while winding up the
day's hearing here.