Central forces to be removed from Orissa’s Kandhamal

January 13th, 2009 - 8:35 pm ICT by IANS  

Bhubaneswar, Jan 13 (IANS) Over 4,000 personnel of central forces deployed in Orissa’s Kandhamal district in the aftermath of communal violence will be withdrawn in phases, an official said Tuesday.The central government has directed the state to initiate the withdrawal of forces from Thursday (Jan 15), Home Secretary A.P. Padhi told reporters here.

He said while 1,000 personnel will be pulled out of the district on Jan 15, another 1,000 will be withdrawn in February and remaining by the end of March.

The state government said the situation in the district is now peaceful and no violence has been reported from the region since October.

Kandhamal district, about 200 km from here, witnessed violence after the murder of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati and four of his aides Aug 23.

About 40 people were killed and thousands of Christians were forced to flee their homes in the district after being attacked by rampaging mobs. About 6,700 people are still living in government-run relief camps in the district.

While police blamed Maoists for the killings, some Hindu organisations held Christians responsible for the crime and launched attacks on the community. However, Christian organisations have repeatedly denied their involvement in the murder.

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