Advani, Rajnath express shock over killing of VHP leader

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New Delhi, Aug 24 (UNI) Leader of the Opposition L K Advani and BJP president Rajnath Singh today expressed shock over the killing of revered Laxmananda Saraswati and four of his followers last night.

Saraswati and four others were shot dead by unknown assailants at Jaleshpata Ashrama school on the Kalahandi Phulbani border, while working for welfare of tribals in the state.

In separate statements, Mr Advani and Mr Singh said they shared the outrage of the people of Orissa over the crime, in which the life of the selfless Hindu seer was lost. He was tirelessly working for uplift of underprivileged in Phulbani district for the last four decades and had survived several unsuccessful bids in the past two decades. The Maoists were obviously behind the killing as he was assassinated on the day of Krishna Janmasthami celebrations in a residential school, they added.

''I strongly condemn this evil deed and hope that the state government will conduct a speedy investigation, identify the perpetrators of the crime and punish the guilty,'' Mr Advani said.

Mr Singh, however, saw a conspiracy in the killing of five people including the seer, which he said an act of cowardice and a conspiracy intended to vitiate the atmosphere in the state.

''The anti-national elements were increasingly targeting the nationalist forces for the past four years and this killing was a setback for social and economic empowerment of the tribal people in Orissa,'' Mr Singh added.

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