A threat to blow up the Kanyashram (a girl’s residential school) in Jaleshpatta village of Kandhamal district in Odisha has come to light. The current caretaker of the ashram, Swami Jeevan Muktanand Giri, has received two death threats recently and lodged an FIR at Tumudibandh police station.
The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) has accused the state government of taking the threat lightly and repeating the mistakes it committed 13 years ago when similar threats to Swami Lakshmanananda Saraswati, the founder of the ashram, were not taken seriously.
Swami Lakshmanananda was ruthlessly murdered by an armed mob of 30-40 people, 4 of them carrying AK-47s, on the festival day of Janmashtami in 2008, in the very same Kanyashram in Jaleshpatta. Many of the 130 girls in the Kanyashram, a residential school on the campus, were eyewitnesses to the killing of the VHP leader and the incident left them traumatised. Four other persons murdered by the assailants were Mata Bhaktimayee, Krutananda Baba, Kishore Baba and Puranjana Guntha.
Kandhamal district is a hub of missionary activity with many tribals being lured and coerced into accepting Christianity and subsequently turned against their own indigenous religion which is part of the Hindu Dharmic family. Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati had launched an awareness campaign in the area and was working for tribal welfare, which the missionaries did not like and he had been attacked over half a dozen times before his murder. Followers of local Christian leaders, Radha Kant Nayak (Congress Rajya Sabha MP and ex-chief of the Christian evangelical organisation World Vision) and Sugriba Singh (BJD Lok Sabha MP) were alleged to be behind those attacks.
Courts finally convicted only 8 people – 7 converted Christians and 1 Maoist – for the murder, who were given life imprisonment. But the local allege that the masterminds of the attack got away.
VHP has demanded that the current caretaker of the Ashram, Swami Jeevan Muktanand Giri, be given immediate security. As per reports, police have arrested a former ashram worker who they claim made the threatening calls due to a fallout with Ashram authorities.
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