Orissa orders probe into priest’s death

October 30th, 2008 - 9:14 pm ICT by IANS  

Bhubaneswar, Oct 30 (IANS) The Orissa government Thursday announced a probe into the death of a Catholic priest in a hospital in Chennai Tuesday allegedly after suffering injuries in a mob attack during communal violence in Kandhamal.Bangalore-based Global Council of Indian Christians alleged that Father Bernard Digal, 48, a native of Tinagia village in Kandhamal, was attacked by a mob on the night of Aug 25.

Digal, who also served as treasurer of the Archdiocese of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar, was found unconscious the next morning in a forested area, the council said.

He was initially treated at Bhubaneswar and later shifted to Mumbai. He was subsequently taken to Chennai’s St. Thomas Hospital, where he died Tuesday night, the council in a release had said Wednesday.

“But some media reports claim that father Digal died of dengue. The state government has asked crime branch of the police to probe to clear all doubts,” a Orissa home department official told IANS.

Kandhamal district saw large-scale communal violence, mostly attacks on Christians and their places of worship, after the Aug 23 killing of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Swami Laxmanananda and four of his aides.

Though Maoist rebels have claimed responsibility for the killings, radical Hindu groups hold Christians responsible.

At least 38 people have died in the violence that has left more than 20,000 people homeless. Around 11,000 people are still living in relief camps.

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