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BJP legislator surrenders after apex court rejects bail

Wednesday March 09, 2011 06:10:58 PM, IANS

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BJP MLA sentenced to 7 years in Kandhamal riots case

Bhubaneswar: A BJP legislator in Orissa surrendered in a fast track court Wednesday, two months after the Supreme Court rejected the bail granted to him by a lower court in a murder case relating to the 2008 anti-Christian riots in Kandhamal district, a lawyer said.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislator Manoj Kumar Pradhan surrendered before the first track court at Phulbani - the district headquarter town of Kandhamal, his lawyer Ajit Patnaik said.

"He was sent to jail. He will again move the court for bail as per the provision of the law," Patnaik told IANS

A fast track court June last year awarded Pradhan seven years of rigorous imprisonment. Pradhan appealed against the sentence at the high court and moved for bail. The high court granted him bail July 7 last year.

Kanak Rekha Naik, the widow of the man who was killed and burnt in the riots, had moved the apex court challenging the high court verdict granting bail to Pradhan.

The Supreme Court in January this year rejected the high court order, ruling that a public representative could not be treated differently.

Pradhan took more than two months to surrender because there was no specific direction from the Supreme Court or from the high court. Besides, he was participating in the assembly session, the lawyer said.

Kandhamal district, about 200 km from here, witnessed widespread violence after the murder of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati and four of his aides at his ashram Aug 23, 2008.

At least 38 people were killed and more than 25,000 Christians were forced to flee their homes after their houses were attacked by mobs that held Christians responsible for the Swami's killing, although the police blamed the Maoists.

Pradhan, who faced 12 cases for his involvement in the riots, was convicted in two for murder and acquitted in over half a dozen relating to arson and rioting. He was arrested in October 2008. He fought the assembly elections in April 2009 from jail and defeated senior Congress leader Ajaynti Pradhan.

The government has set up two fast track courts in the district to try criminal cases related to the communal riots.





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