Bhubaneshwar (AsiaNews) - Police in Orissa have arrested Madhu Baba, the Hindu leader of Viswa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and the right hand man of Swami Laxmananda Saraswati whose assassination led to the anti-Christian pogrom of August 2008.
On 18 October the police took Madhu Baba from Jalespeta Ashram some 310 km from Bhubaneswar, to prison in Baliguda where he is now being held in custody. The court has placed him under a non-bailable warrant.
Sources in the police commissioner of Baliguda argue that the arrest "has nothing to do with extremist violence last year" and that recently the police had received information of threats and possible new attacks on minorities that lead back to Madhu Baba.
The Hindu leader, however, is long accused of having participated in a Hindu extremist raid that took place more than a year ago. On July 8, 2008, the Christian villagers of Malipara, in the Tumudibandh, were attacked by activists linked to Madhu Baba who accused them of having slaughtered a cow, an act prohibited by Hindu religious dictates. The leader of the VHP had definitely taken part in the quarrel between Christians and his followers that took place in the morning. The attack occurred in the afternoon according to a well known dynamic: the siege of homes of some Christians, the hostel and the orphanage linked the Church, the desecration of a local Catholic chapel run by the Jesuits, the destruction of Bibles, books and liturgical furnishings.
Madhu Baba's involvement in the affair has long been known and the Hindu leader was on the police most wanted list in the area of Tumudibandh. Hi imprisonment, which occurred suddenly and so long after the events, gives rise to suspicion and speculation among the people of Kandhamal.
The Hindu leader is a controversial figure of the VHP in Orissa, often criticized for its extremist views. Right hand man of Laxmananda Saraswati and his heir to the leadership of Jalespeta Ashram, Madhu Baba was at the scene of the murder of the swami on 23 August and is one of the main witnesses. He himself presented the First Hand Information, the first report that helped spread rumours that the killers of the Hindu leader were Christian and not Maoist militants as later investigations revealed.