Christian institutions to remain closed today in protest against Orissa violence

August 29th, 2008 - 1:35 pm ICT by ANI  

Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, Aug 29 (ANI): As tension remains high in the communally sensitive Kandhmal District of Orissa with reports of sporadic incidents of violence, around 30,000 Christian missionary run schools and colleges across the country have decided to remain closed on Friday to protest the violence against their community.
The call for a total shutdown came after Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh described the violence in Orissa as a national shame.
A delegation of the Catholic Bishops” Conference of India (CBCI) on Thursday met the Prime Minster and appealed to him to conduct an independent inquiry into the killing of VHP leader Laxamananda Saraswati.
Dr. Singh assured the bishops that the Central Government was in touch with the State Government and that every effort would be made to restore normalcy in the state,”” the Prime Minister’’s Office (PMO) release said.
The PM said there would be a compensation of Rs 3 lakh for the families of those killed while the delegation demanded a law on the lines of the SC and ST atrocities act to protect minorities from harassment.
Later the Prime Minister spoke to Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and urged him to take immediate steps to stop the violence in the state and restore normalcy.
Dr. Singh has also asked him to provide protection to the Christian minorities in Orissa and also to provide immediate relief to the affected people, particularly children.
Meanwhile, the Chief Minister told the State Assembly that free kitchen and relief camps were operating in six block areas while security personnel were asked to conduct flag marches to ensure peace and harmony among the people and claimed that the situation in Kandhamal was returning to normalcy.
In a move to quell the violence, the former DCP of Cuttack has been posted as the new superintendent of police of Kandhmal.
Besides calling for nationwide rallies and school shutdowns, the bishops have also called for a nationwide day of prayer and fasting on September 7 in support of Christians in the state and for communal harmony and peace.
The CBCI, the National Council of Churches of India, the Orthodox Church and the Evangelical Fellowship of India have given the call for closure of all educational institutions for a day. (ANI)

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