Maoist ‘commander’ arrested for Orissa VHP leader’s murder

Bhubaneswar, April 21 (Inditop) A Maoist was arrested Tuesday for allegedly masterminding the murder of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Laxmanananda Saraswati in Kandhamal district last year, police said. The murder led to widespread communal violence in the state.

Udaya alias P. Rama Rao, ‘commander’ of the Bansadhara division of the banned Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist), was arrested with three of his associates from Gudari area of Rayagada district, some 400 km from here, District Superintendent of Police A.K. Singh told Inditop.

“Udaya is one of the masterminds in the killing of Laxmanananda Saraswati in Kandhamal,” Singh said.

“Udaya is third in command of the Maoist group operating in Orissa. He was involved in over 20 heinous crimes including murder, rioting, looting of government armouries,” the official said.

Kandhamal, about 200 km from here, witnessed widespread communal violence after the murder of Laxmanananda Saraswati and four of his aides at his ashram at Jaleshpata Aug 23 last year.

Thousands of people were forced to flee their homes after their houses were attacked by rampaging mobs. At least 38 people – most of them Christians – were killed in the violence. Police had earlier arrested seven people for the killings.

Singh said that Udaya, 45, was also involved in the Maoist attack at Nayagarh town, some 85 km from Bhubaneswar, in February last year.

Over 500 rebels allegedly led by Udaya and other Maoist leaders simultaneously attacked several police stations, a police training centre and a police post and looted weapons from a government armoury. Over a dozen policemen were killed in the attack.

“We have also recovered several weapons from them which include a revolver and a pistol and live cartridges,” the official said.