NHRC calls for protection of Christians in Orissa

December 18th, 2008 - 8:47 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Dec 18 (IANS) Apprehending a fresh wave of clashes following radical Hindu groups’ call for an Orissa shutdown on Christmas day, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued a notice to top officials asking what measures have been taken to provide security to Christians.”The commission has given the chief secretary and the Director General of Police (DGP) Orissa three days to submit a report on the measures taken for protection of Christians during the Christmas season,” an NHRC official said.

Radical Hindu organisations, which had given the state government a Dec 15 deadline to arrest all those involved in planning and executing the killing of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati and four of his aides Aug 23, have said the administration has failed to act on their demand and they would go ahead with a statewide shutdown on Dec 25, Christmas day.

Orissa Archbishop Raphael Cheenath said he feared fresh violence during Christmas but hoped the state government would take measures to protect the traumatised Christian community, especially in the strife-torn Kandhamal district.

Acting on Congress leader Margaret Alva’s complaint, the commission issued the notice.

“Alva expressed apprehension that violence may erupt in Orissa in the wake of bandh call given by Hindu organization on Dec 25 and many lives may be lost during the Christmas season,” the official added.

Violence engulfed Kandhamal district since the killing of the VHP leader, with many churches burnt down and thousands of Christians forced to flee to the jungles to escape rampaging mobs.

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