New Delhi: As many as 3,706 persons have been acquitted of the charges of communal violence and 474 persons were convicted in connection with Kandhamal riots which allegedly broke out after the assassination of Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati in 2008.
In an affidavit file in the Supreme Court by the Home department of Odisha, it has been revealed that 827 cases of communal violence were registered in the district of which charge-sheets have been submitted in 512 cases.
As many as 342 cases were disposed of while only 79 cases ended in convictions.
The state government has submitted that around 263 cases ended in acquittal while 170 cases have been pending for trial. Appeals have been made in 19 cases. It has also been revealed that 6,594 persons were either arrested or have surrendered for communal violence in the district.
The state government also submitted to the court that in 315 cases, the final report was accepted only after giving opportunity to victims to file protest petitions.
Earlier, an application has been filed in the SC seeking directions to the state for setting up of a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to investigate the cases registered in connection with Kandhamal riots.
Petitioner Archbishop John Baruwa had pleaded to the apex court to direct the state government to form an SIT headed by a senior police officer with the exclusive mandate of comprehensively looking into the 315 cases in which no offence was found to be made out or the offenders could not be detected. He pleaded for the directions to the state government to carry out further investigation in these cases.
He also prayed the court to direct Odisha to file revision petitions in acquittal cases by May 2020.
According to reports, at least 39 Christians were killed and over 395 churches vandalised, 600 villages ransacked; over 5,600 houses were looted and over 54,000 people were left homeless in the August 2008 riots in
Khandhamal district which allegedly set off after the murder of Swami Lakshmananda.
Similarly, at least three persons were killed and over 100 churches and church institutions, including convents and hostels, about 700 houses and other structures were burnt in the riots which devastated between December 24 and 27, 2007.