ANTO AKKARA ON KANDHAMAL PERSECUTION

Some years back, after Swami Laxmanananda  Saraswati was killed on August 23, 2008, I got a letter from one of my readers from Gandhinagar. The reader apparently read my articles in newspapers and other periodicals. She asked me a question: “Fr Varghese, You have written a number of times about the persecution and crimes against Christians and other minorities. Now why are you silent when Swami Laxmanananda is killed?

I appreciate my readers’ feedback. Here the reader’s statement and the question were both atrue and valid. So I did to write about the Swami’s killing I did a little bit of investigation. In fact, I had read my friend Anto Akkara’s first book “KANDHAMAL a blot on INDIAN SECULARISM” gifted to me by the author. I was shocked with my finding about a few things which culminated to the killing of Swami Laxmanananda!

First, innocent Christians have been accused of killing of the Swami; second, like the very first Radhyatra of L K Advani in Gujarat, which raised anti-Muslim passion and caused much violence, rioting and even killing on the way, Swami Laxmanananda’s body was taken in zigzag way to cover practically the whole Kandhamal district. This procession and inflammatory speeches against Christians and conversion raised the passion of people, which led the much violence, killing of Christians, destruction of Christian houses and Church institutions.

Third, I saw a well planned plot behind Swami’s killing and subsequent developments as there where similarities between the events in Odisha (Orissa) and the 2002 pogrom against the Muslims in Gujarat!

I felt the case of Swami Laxmanananda like a hot potato in my mouth. So instead of answering the question of my reader-friend, I asked her to find out a few things about the case about the murder of Swami Laxmanananda. Why the guards of the Ashram ran away when the ‘enemies’ of the Swami came? Why Swami’s personal security officer was not there? Who informed the killers that the Swami was without his personal security and the protective police force?  Who was the Home Minister in charge of the police force and who sent the police force on other engagements?

I did not answer my reader’s question wishing not to get involved in a controversy beyond my capacity to get involved and face its consequences. But I did write an article on my findings in Gujarati and send a copy to the reader. I agree with my reader that the murders of Swami Laxmanananda and “his four disciples including Swaminis” are heinous crimes.

In fact, I am totally against any killing including capital punishment. I believe that even the hard core criminals can be reformed. There are innumerable cases of hard hearted criminals repenting their crimes and getting converted to useful and responsible citizens of their country.

Swami Laxmanananda’s case never left me alone. If I ever forget the case, there was my journalist-author friend Anto Akkara, who has been passionately following Swami’s case to inform me and remind me time and again through e-mails and his reports published in different periodicals. We may note here that not only Christians but others too got killed in the anti-Christian persecution in Kandhamal.

For instance, Akkara has mentioned a few cases of Hindus getting killed in Kandhamal! In the “Dedicaton” of his first book “KANDHAMAL a blot on INDIAN SECULARISM” Akkara has written “Hindus (got) killed for supporting hounded Christians as well as policeman shot dead in arson attack on Gochhapada police station”.

The latest book of Anto Akkara, which I got, is entitled “Who Killed Swami Laxmanananda?” I have also read Akkara’s second book entitled “SHINING FAITH IN KANDHAMAL”. A few concrete cases are repeated in all three books of Akkara with adding new finding and details.

Akkara is much experienced investigative journalist and much appreciated author for his thorough in-depth and lucid reporting from the hot spots of India and the whole of South Asia. His three books on Kandhamal are proof for his professionalism as an investigative journalist and author.

Kuldip Nayyar, a Patriarch of Indian journalism, appreciating Akkara’s first book “KANDHAMAL a blot on INDIAN SECULARISM” wrote: “This is one of the well written books. It is very objective and describes the situation vividly. It has not let any side unexposed. It is one of the must-read books”.

Veteran Journalist and Author Nayyar has also written the FOREWORD to Akkara’s third book “Who Killed Swami Laxmanananda?” Nayyar writes: “The atrocities and the fraud committed in Kandhamal in 2008, now brought to the fore, may irk the conscience of people even belatedly. … The perpetrators of death, rape and arson during riots have escaped with no or very little punishment The entire episode of Kandhamal requires another relook even though it is late. The gravity of such incidents should never be diminished or hidden.”

Dr Nirmala Sitharaman, then Director of India Foundation, now a Minister in Modi’s BJP Government wrote: “Kandhamal occupies tones of news print last year, not just in India but globally.” Unfortunately, this truth was written in her as PUBLSHER’S NOTE to the book “Harvest of Hate” by Michael Parker. Michael Parker has also authored another book titled Kandhamal : A Fact File Report by Fact Finding Teams”. Anto Akkara has written in his third book: “Except for this chapter title (‘Defeated Truth’), both the books have almost the same content.” Michael Parker’s book “Harvest of Hate” has also appeared as authored by Brannon Parker.

Akkara in a chapter entitled “India Foundation – saffron truth factory” proves beyond doubt that there is no author named either “Michael Parker” or “Brannon Parker”! He writes: “These are ghost names used by the Sangh Parivar in their bid to cover-up its role in the Kandhamal fraud.” Akkara proves conclusively that like the ghost authors the “ghost books” too are the product of “Saffron truth factory”.

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Changed on: 16-01-2020

Next Change: 01-02-2020

© Fr Varghese Paul, SJ – 2020