46 arrested as violence spirals in Orissa district

October 3rd, 2008 - 8:30 pm ICT by IANS  

Bhubaneswar, Oct 3 (IANS) Forty-six people have been arrested in the past two days on charges of rioting as violence continues unabated in Orissa’s volatile Kandhamal district, where communal clashes have claimed at least 34 people in the past month, police said Friday.”We have arrested more than 300 people in the past month. Forty-six of them were detained in the past two days,” a police official said.

Officials said they are likely to arrest more people in the next few days if the violence does not stop.

Meanwhile, the police have confirmed the rape of a nun in the region two days after the murder of Saraswati. The victim had alleged she had been raped by a mob and a Christian priest who tried to stop the attack was beaten and doused with kerosene.

Over 5,000 security personnel have been deployed in the region. Curfew and prohibitory orders have been clamped in many areas but the violence that erupted after the murder of a Hindu leader in August has not yet been curbed.

On Wednesday, mobs set fire to dozens of houses in the Raikia area of the district. On Thursday, arson and violence spread from Kandhamal to the neighbouring district of Boudh.

“Unidentified people set fire to over a hundred houses of dalit Hindus in at least nine villages in Boudh district,” Additional District Magistrate Mihir Chandra Mallik told IANS.

“We have set up a relief camp at Kantamal town to provide food and shelter to the people who have lost their homes,” he added.

The state has been witnessing communal violence since Aug 23, when Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati and four of his aides were shot dead by unidentified gunmen at his Jalespata Ashram in Kandhamal district.

The VHP accused Christians of the murders, a charge strongly denied by Christian organisations. Since then, thousands of people have been rendered homeless, many churches attacked and at least 34 people killed in the state.

Orissa is not new to communal violence between Hindus and Christians. On Jan 22, 1999, Australian missionary Graham Staines and his two sons, 10-year-old Philip and six-year-old Timothy, were burnt alive by a Hindu mob in their vehicle in Keonjhar district.

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