Orissa Christians seek security for peaceful Christmas

December 20th, 2008 - 10:37 pm ICT by IANS  

Bhubaneswar, Dec 20 (IANS) Christian leaders in Orissa Saturday met Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and requested him to provide necessary security to churches in the state to ensure a peaceful Christmas celebration.A delegation led by Cuttack-Bhubaneswar Archbishop Raphael Cheenath told Patnaik that they were apprehending trouble even if the Hindu groups called off the state-wide shutdown that they earlier announced on Dec 25, Christmas Day.

“Some strange people are seen moving in the district of Kandhamal and we are afraid,” Cheenath told reporters here after meeting the chief minister.

“Security needs to be provided to dioceses at Balasore, Berhampur, Rourkela and Sambalpur.”

Kandhamal district, about 200 km from here, witnessed widespread communal violence after the murder of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati and four of his aides at his ashram Aug 23.

The police have arrested seven people and charged them with the murders.

The Hindu groups had given a shutdown call demanding immediate arrest of all the people involved in the murders that triggered communal violence in the state.

At least 38 people were killed in the state and thousands were forced to flee their homes after their houses were attacked by mobs. About 8,000 people are still living in government-run relief camps in the district.

The Hindu groups Friday called off their proposed shutdown after assurances from the government.

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