BJP legislator acquitted in a Kandhamal riots case

Udayagiri legislator Manoj Pradhan was accused of torching a house in Banjamaha village under Raikia police station area on October 1, 2008.

"He was let off for want of evidence as there was a lone witness in the case. Only the victim testified in the case and the charges against Pradhan could not be proved," Special Public Prosecutor Bijay Pattnaik said.

Pradhan, who also faces charges of murder in Tiangia village during the violence, has got bail in the case. After the Orissa High Court awarded him bail, he was freed from jail. There are still 10 cases pending against him.

Kandhamal district, about 200 km from here, witnessed widespread violence after the murder of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati and four of his aides at his ashram on August 23 last year.

More than 25,000 Christians were forced to flee their homes after their houses were attacked by rampaging mobs, who held Christians responsible for Saraswati's killing although police blamed the Maoists. The government has set up two fast-track courts to try cases related to the communal violence.

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