Bail extended for legislator accused of Kandhamal violence

BHUBANESWAR - The Orissa High Court Friday extended the bail period of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislator Manoj Pradhan, who is an accused in last year’s communal violence in Kandhamal, for another 15 days.

“We had appealed for one month extension of bail period as the 15 days’ bail given was ending tomorrow. After hearing our plea, the high court has extended the bail period till July 31,” defence lawyer Aurobindo Mohanty said.

Earlier a single-judge bench of R.N. Biswal of the Orissa High Court had granted a 15-day conditional bail to Pradhan so that he could take oath as a member of the newly elected assembly. Pradhan took his oath July 6.

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 last year.

More than 25,000 Christians were forced to flee their homes after their houses were attacked by rampaging mobs, who held Christians responsible for Saraswati’s killing.

Although no communal violence has been reported from the region since October last year, nearly 1,200 people are still living in three government-run relief camps.

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