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Cong slams Orissa for dragging in Nayak’s name

REACTING to a report in The Indian Express on Saturday (‘Net closes in on Cong MP for Orissa swami’s murder’) that the BJD-BJP Government in Orissa was closing in on Congress MP Radhakant Nayak for his “alleged role in the conspiracy to kill VHP leader Lakshmanananda Saraswati....

| New Delhi |
December 28, 2008 12:48:03 am

REACTING to a report in The Indian Express on Saturday (‘Net closes in on Cong MP for Orissa swami’s murder’) that the BJD-BJP Government in Orissa was closing in on Congress MP Radhakant Nayak for his “alleged role in the conspiracy to kill VHP leader Lakshmanananda Saraswati,” the Congress Saturday strongly defended the MP and called the allegations “politically motivated” and “malicious”.

All India Congress Committee in-charge of Orissa Ajay Maken said, in a press release, that the allegations were “nothing but malicious conjectures with no element of reasoned evidence in its support”. The attempt was to divert attention from the “miserable performance” of the state police, perhaps under directions from its political masters, he said.

“From Christian missionaries to Naxals to R K Nayak and the Congress, the Government through its anonymous ‘sources’ was pointing desperate fingers towards all but the real perpetrators of the murder, who are still at large and the threat of violence still hangs in the air,” said Maken.

AICC spokesperson Shakeel Ahmed said, “It all seems politically motivated. After a gap of so many months, the (BJD-BJP) government comes to know that somebody other than the original claimant of the crime (Maoists) is responsible for it. We do hope that truth comes out. We believe in the judicial system of the country.”

Congress leaders said that the allegations against Nayak, a retired civil servant who had entered the Rajya Sabha as a Congress nominee in 2004, had come from the local BJP and the VHP. “No police officer or any official has gone on record making any direct allegations against Nayak,” said a senior leader.

Nayak also denied the allegations — as reported in The Indian Express Saturday — saying that the crime allegedly attributed to him was “beyond my nature and against my character”.

In a statement sent to The Indian Express Saturday, he said that the report was “totally false and absurd” and was a “deliberate attempt to malign me and my political party.” He cited his record as a lecturer at Utkal University in Orissa and as an IAS officer of the 1962 batch. “I have served the country for 36 long years and held a number of important posts in Orissa and at the Centre before retiring as Secretary to Government of India in the Ministry of Rural Development in 1997. I have also set up a National Institute of Social Work and Social Sciences located in Bhubaneswar which caters to the educational and employment needs of weaker sections…without any consideration of religion, caste or political affiliation.”

“This attitude of social service only has led me to politics and that too to the Congress Party, which believes and acts along the lines of its lofty philosophies of secularism, pluralism and nonviolence,” he said. “I condemn violence of any nature, including the murder of Swamy Lakshmanananda Saraswati and the massacre that followed in Kandhamal. The people of Kandhamal are peace loving and the entire tragedy seems to be the handiwork of some miscreants, who need to be dealt with firmly.”

The Indian Express reporter Debabrata Mohanty replies: The report clearly mentioned that the Orissa Police are said to be “preparing a case against Nayak and his supporters.” This is based on information from sources in the police and the government. The report’s purpose was to record the latest development in the Saraswati murder investigation. Before publication, The Indian Express contacted Nayak who said the allegations were “absolutely absurd and completely false.” These comments were accurately reproduced in the report and also highlighted. The report is part of the newspaper’s continuing coverage of the Saraswati case, the Kandhamal riots that followed, the plight of refugees still in relief camps and the politics around the probe.

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