5/20/2011 India- Thirteen people were Monday sentenced to five years imprisonment for their role in the 2008 Kandhamal violence. A fast track court in Phulbani, Orissa convicted the 13 for their involvement in rioting, arson and torching of houses in Sartaguda village under Tikabali police station in September 2008.
Fast Track judge Shobhan Das handed each of the accused five years of rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs 2000. In a related case, another fast track court acquitted 12 people for lack of evidence.
All the 12 had been arrested by Phiringia police on charges of unlawful assembly with weapons in Sripalla village on December 30, 2007. The judgement has come a week after the same court acquitted 21 of 25 accused in a case of arson. Church leaders have expressed deep concern at the high rate of acquittals in the fast track courts.
Kandhamal witnessed widespread violence after the murder of VHP leader Laxmananda Saraswati and four of his aides at his ashram Aug 23, 2008. More than 50,000 Christians were forced to flee their homes after their houses were attacked by rampaging mobs.
Meanwhile, a senior Maoist leader, believed to be one of two masterminds behind the 2008 killing of Saraswati reportedly surrendered before the Andhra Pradesh DGP on Wednesday. (Source)