13 convicted, 35 acquitted in three Kandhamal riot cases

Last Updated: Sat, Jan 30, 2010 20:22 hrs

Bhubaneswar: A court in Orissa on Saturday convicted 13 people and let off 35 others in three separate cases of rioting in Kandhamal district in 2008.

Fast track court-I judge Subhendu Das sentenced 11 people to five years imprisonment and fined them Rs.2,000 each for torching the house of Gugula Das in Sorangada village on Sep 18, 2008.

"Eleven people have been convicted in this case and 17 others have been let off for want of evidence against them," P.K. Patra, the public prosecutor, said.

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If the convicts fail to pay the fine they will have to spend an additional three months in jail, the court ordered.

In another case, two men were sentenced to five years in prison for arson in Ranjabadi and Mandaguda villages on August 28, 2008.

"S. Pradhan and Manoj Pradhan were accused in this case. Cases were filed against them by M. Pradhan and others. Both of them have been convicted," public prosecutor B.K. Pattnaik said.

In the third case, 18 people were acquitted in a case of arson under Phiringia police station on August 26, 2008.

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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 on August 23, 2008.

More than 25,000 Christians were forced to flee their homes after their houses were attacked by rampaging mobs that held Christians responsible for Saraswati's killing, although police blamed the Maoists.

The government has set up two fast track courts to try cases related to the communal violence.

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