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Seer defends Naveen govt

Cuttack, Dec. 27: Describing the spate of violence in Kandhamal as a “natural reaction”, Swami Laxmananda Saraswati today gave a clean chit to the Naveen Patnaik administration, saying that no government could have controlled such a “backlash”.

The attack on the 83-year-old Swami on December 24 had triggered violence across the tribal-dominated district and had spread to adjoining Gajapati, too.

Though the Swami believes that the “violence was spontaneous”, the attack on him “was orchestrated”, to eliminate him. “And that has put the region’s Hindus on the defensive,” he said, while talking to The Telegraph from the SCB Medical College and Hospital, Cuttack. The leader looked weak, but well, lying on his bed at cabin number 3 at the hospital’s surgery department.

When asked if the Naveen government could have acted sooner before the violence, he said: “No government could have controlled a backlash, especially when it is spontaneous.” “The key to peace in Kandhamal and adjoining regions would be the state’s reassurance to check conversion of tribals by Christian missionaries,” said the Swami.

The Orissa government has already introduced a law wherein before converting, an individual has to seek police permission. The move was designed as a “deterrent” to conversion. “But the process continue just the same, though at a reduced pace, as covert operations at villages in remote areas,” the Swami regretted.

The Swami, known for his untiring zeal to check conversion of tribals into Christians in the entire southern and western Orissa, has been running the Shankaracharya Sanskruta Kanya Ashram at Jalespata, 30km south of Baliguda in Khandhamal for more than three decades now.

He was attacked near Dasingbadi, 5km from Daringbadi around noon on December 24 while he was on his way to Brahmanigaon in a Marshal jeep to perform a yagna. Five others, including an APR personnel provided by the government, were accompanying him.

“It was only by gods grace that I survived,” said the swami.

Naresh Kanhar (40), who managed to drive the jeep away from the spot said: “A bus was parked on the road in front of our jeep, blocking the way. A tree was cut to block our way back. They were more than 50 of them armed with axes and other weapons,” said the driver.

Bhubaneswar Jani (24), the APR personnel provided by the government as a bodyguard to the Swami, admitted that the attack was “terrible”.

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