Sitting Bharatiya Janata Party Member of Legislative Assembly Manoj Pradhan was on Thursday sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for six years by a fast track court for a murder during the 2008 communal riots in Orissa's Kandhamal district.
Fast track court-II judge C R Das convicted Pradhan for the murder of Bikram Nayak, a Christian from Budedipada of Tiangia village under Raikia police station limits on August 26, 2008.
He was convicted under Section 304 (punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder) of the Indian Penal Code. The judge also slapped a fine of Rs 15,500 on the convict, who represents the communally sensitive G Udayagiri assembly constituency, for setting ablaze houses of people belonging to the minority community and inciting communal violence.
Though Pradhan's name was initially not in the FIR filed at Raikia police station, his involvement in the killing came to light during investigations. At least 12 cases were registered against Pradhan for his alleged involvement in the riots in Kandhamal, which claimed at least 38 lives in the aftermath of the killing of Vsihwa Hindu Parishad leader Swami Laxamananda Saraswati.
Of the 12 cases, Pradhan has been convicted in two murder cases and acquitted in seven others, relating to arson and rioting.
Three more cases are pending against him. Pradhan was a close disciple of Saraswati, whose killing on August 23, 2008, had sparked off large-scale violence in Kandhamal and other parts of Orissa. Pradhan said he would move a higher court against the sentence.
This was the second case in which Pradhan, arrested from Berhampur in December 2008, has been convicted. Pradhan was the lone candidate to win the 2009 assembly elections while in jail.