Kandhamal riots: BJP MLA gets 7 year RI

Written by Debabrata Mohanty | Bhubaneswar | Updated: Jun 30 2010, 07:30am hrs
A fast track court in Kandhamal district of Orissa today sentenced BJP MLA Manoj Pradhan to seven years' rigorous imprisonment for his role in the 2008 Kandhamal communal riots. The judgement was pronounced by fast track court-I judge Sobhan Kumar Das while disposing of a case relating to the murder of Parikhita Nayak, a Dalit Christian from Budedi village under Raikia police station limit on August 27, 2008. Pradhan's lawyer Ajit Patnaik said the MLA was convicted under sections 147 (rioting) and 326( grievous hurt) of the Indian Penal Code. He was also asked to pay a fine of Rs 6,000. If he does not pay the fine, Pradhan has to undergo six additional months of imprisonment.

Soon after the judgement, Pradhan was sent to a jail in Phulbani town of Kandhamal.

Pradhan, the BJP MLA from G Udaygiri constituency, had 14 caseshalf of them of murderlodged against him over his alleged link with last year's riots in Kandhamal. The two-month-long rioting, triggered by the killing of VHP leader Laxmanananda Saraswati, claimed 43 lives and led to the burning of about 4,600 houses and over 150 churches and prayer houses. Pradhan was also accused of setting on fire houses of people belonging to the minority community. He is still accused in five more riot casesthree of them are of murder.

He was arrested in October 2008 and fought the 2009 assembly election behind the bars of G Udaygiri sub-jail successfully, after the majority Hindu votes polarised in his support. G Udaygiri bore the brunt of the 2008 communal violence as several Christians were killed and chased away from their homes by murderous tribal Hindus most of whom were allegedly led by Pradhan.

Pradhan said he would appeal before the Orissa HC against the order.