The central committee of the banned Communist Party of India - Maoist had decided to eliminate Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Laxmananda Saraswati as he was opposing them in Kandhamal, according to the confessions of an arrested Maoist commander, who was allegedly involved in the killing in August last year.
P Rama Rao alias Uday, arrested on April 20 from Raygada district, told interrogators that he was part of the 16-member Maoist team that gunned down Saraswati on the evening of August 23, 2008 in Kandhamal district, Inspector General of Police (Crime Branch) Arun Ray said on Wednesday.
"Uday admitted his involvement in Saraswati's murder," the IGP said.
Uday, a commander of Bansadhara division of CPI-Maoist, claimed that the seer was killed as he was opposing the Maoist movement in Kandhamal, Ray said.
Claiming that he was informed about the operation barely four days earlier, Uday said, "Azad, the military head of Orissa, informed me about the operation."
Besides him and Azad, trained cadre from Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh including four women were part of the team which executed the decision of the party's central committee, he said.
Uday said that the armed Maoist team arrived in Kandhamal on April 22, a day before the killing of Saraswati and four of his associates at the Jalespeta ashram. The team attacked the seer, who was celebrating Janmastami, after overpowering two securitymen at the ashram, he said.
"After killing Saraswati and others at ashram, we escaped from Kandhamal by walking through the forest to Chandragiri," Uday said.
The killing of Saraswati led to large-scale violence against Christians in Kandhamal, which claimed 43 lives.