Curfew reimposed after fresh clashes in Orissa (Lead)

October 1st, 2008 - 11:47 pm ICT by IANS  

Bhubaneswar, Oct 1 (IANS) Curfew was re-imposed in Orissa’s troubled Kandhamal district Wednesday following arson and the death of a woman in Christian-Hindu clashes, as court asked the central government to provide sufficient forces to restore peace in the state where communal violence has claimed 33 lives over the past month.”We have re-imposed a day and night curfew in nine towns of the district,” Kandhamal Superintendent of Police S. Praveen Kumar told IANS.

The riot-hit district remained tense the whole day.

Although no major untoward incident was reported, at least 35 people were arrested for their alleged involvement in violence.

A mob set fire to several houses in Behera Gaon village in the district Tuesday night.

Earlier in the day, a mob set fire to Christian homes and a church in Rudangia village under Udayagiri police station.

The two sides then clashed using locally-made illicit guns and other weapons. The police were forced to open fire to disperse the mob. Forty-year-old Rukmini Nayak was killed in the violence and over a dozen people were injured.

About 10 people were arrested for their involvement in the violence.

Meanwhile, a division bench of the court, comprising Chief Justice B.S. Chauhan and Justice B.N. Mohapatra, was hearing a writ petition by a Christian organisation.

The Utkal Christian Council - a regional arm of the National Council of Churches of India - filed the petition Sep 28, seeking court intervention to protect the lives of Christians in the state in the wake of the attacks against them following the murder of a Hindu leader Aug 23.

After hearing the counter affidavit the state government filed Wednesday, the court found Chief Minister Navin Patnaik had requested the central government to provide 43 companies of central paramilitary forces.

The bench said steps should be taken to make the paramilitary forces available as required by the state government, according to the Christian group’s lawyer Prasanna Kumar Nanda.

“When I pointed out that people living in camps are not safe and they are also subject to attack by miscreants, the court directed to provide sufficient number of paramilitary forces to protect those who have taken shelter,” Nanda told IANS.

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.

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 33 people killed in the state.

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