Orissa Congress observes black day against communal violence

September 8th, 2008 - 9:30 pm ICT by IANS  

Bhubaneswar, Sep 8 (IANS) Thousands of Congress activists in Orissa observed ‘black day’ Monday to protest communal violence in the state that killed at least 16 people and made thousands homeless.Wearing black badges, they staged protest in front of government offices in most parts of the state, shouting slogans against the Naveen Patnaik government for its alleged failure to maintain law and order.

“The state government has failed to maintain law and order and Patnaik has no right to remain in power,” state Youth Congress president Rohit Pujari told IANS. “We want president’s rule in the state,” he said.

Congressmen also burnt effigies of the chief minister in several places.

Thousands of Congress workers courted arrest in different parts of the state, police said. In capital Bhubaneswar police detained about 200 Congress activists and released them later, deputy commissioner of police Himansu Kumar Lal told IANS.

Communal violence was triggered after the killing of Swami Lakshmanananda Saraswati, a Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader, and four of his associates. They were shot dead by unknown gunmen at his Jalespata Ashram, some 340 km from here in Kandhamal district, on Aug 23.

The police suspect Maoist rebels killed them but some Hindu groups blamed Christians for the murders and went on the rampage. Christian groups have repeatedly denied the charge.

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