Orissa assembly adjourned over VHP leader’s killing

August 25th, 2008 - 5:45 pm ICT by IANS  

Bhubaneswar, Aug 25 (IANS) The Orissa assembly was adjoured Monday as ruling and opposition legislators clashed over the killing of a Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader and four others in communally volatile Kandhamal district last week. While there was unrest outside as the VHP called for a statewide shutdown against the killing of its leader by suspected Maoist rebels Saturday, there was chaos inside too. The opposition Congress demanded suspension of the question hour and an immediate discussion on the law and order problems in the state; and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) - ally of the ruling Biju Janata Dal - demanded suspension of proceedings for the day in view of the shutdown.

Speaker Kishore Kumar Mohanty was forced to adjourn the house after members of both sides rushed towards his podium and refused to let the house run. He initially adjourned the house for an hour and later for the day as the situation showed no signs of improving.

On Monday, there were reports of churches being attacked and vehicles being torched in Bargarh and Jajpur districts. Rail and road traffic was disrupted across the state and thousands of people staged demonstrations in several places.

Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati, a member of VHP’s central advisory committee, and four other people were killed at his Jalespata ashram in Kandhamal district, 340 km from here, Saturday evening after more than 30 suspected Maoist rebels opened fire on them.

According to Director General of Police Gopal Chandra Nanda, the attackers used “sophisticated rifles and AK-47″.

Saraswati was leading a campaign against cow slaughter and religious conversion in the communally sensitive district — which with a population of around 600,000, including 150,000 Christians, has witnessed numerous clashes between Hindus and Christians in the past.

Saraswati’s supporters have been holding protests since Saturday night, blocking trains and vehicles.

The state government Sunday ordered a judicial probe into the killings and announced compensation for the victims. Authorities also constituted a special police team to investigate the crime.

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