Bhubaneswar, Aug 24 (UNI) BJP president Rajnath Singh and leader of opposition in Lok Sabha L K Advani today strongly condemned the killing of Swami Laxamanananda Sarswati and four others at Jalaspeta Ashram in Kandhamal district by some unidentified assailants last night.
In his statement Mr Singh described the murder as an act of cowardice and a conspiracy to vitiate the atmosphere of peace and harmony in the state.
The anti-national elements, he said, had been increasingly targeting the forces of integration in India and trying hard to weaken the nationalist resolve for the past four years or so.
The BJP leader said the Swamiji had dedicated his entire life working for social and economic empowerment of the tribal people in Orissa. His murder had dealt a big blow to the process of upliftment of poor and deprived class.
Condemning the murder of Swamiji and four other social activists Mr Singh hoped that the state government would take speedy action against the perpetrators of the heinous act and expressed his heartfelt condolences to the families of the people killed.
In a separate statement Mr Advani expressed his deep shock over the killing of Swamiji and four others including a sanyasini.
He said Laxamananda Saraswati, a revered Hindu religious leader was working for the welfare of tribals in Orissa.
''I share the outrage of the people of Orissa over the dastardly crime.'' he said and described the Swamiji was a selfless Hindu seer who had been working for the uplift of the underprivileged in Phulbani district for over last four decades.
Mr Advani said the Swamiji had survived more than a dozen unsuccessful bids on his life in the past two decades. The fact that he was assassinated on the auspicious day of Janmasthtami while he was celebrating the function in a residential school, revealed an ominous motive behind the crime, suspected to have been committed by Maoists, he added.
Mr Advani hoped that the state government would conduct a speedy investigation, identify the perpetrators of the crime and punish the guilty.
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