Orissa remains volatile despite shoot at sight order (Second Lead)

August 27th, 2008 - 10:05 pm ICT by IANS  

Bhubaneswar, Aug 27 (IANS) Mobs defied curfew, blocked roads and attacked churches Wednesday in Orissa’s Kandhamal district even after police issued shoot-at-sight orders to control the situation erupting out of the killing of a Hindu leader Saturday.Officials said the trouble spread to other areas of the state with stray incidents of violence reported in Sundergarh, Gajapati and Rayaagada districts.

The state has been on the boil since the killing of Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati, a member of the central advisory committee of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), and four others Saturday evening by suspected Maoist guerrillas at his Jalespata ashram in Kandhamal district.

Police have registered at least seventy cases in different police stations related to the communal violence and 54 people have been arrested in this connection, chief minister Naveen Patnaik informed the state assembly.

But the situation is worst in Kandhamal district. “We have given orders to shoot at sight anybody defying curfew and indulging in violence,” Revenue Divisional Commissioner Satyabrata Sahu told IANS as the violence raged — mostly in isolated rural hamlets.

Police and paramilitary forces marched through the troubled towns of the district Wednesday. Orders under section 144, which prohibits the assembly of five or more people, have been clamped in the area.

Minister of State for Home Sri Prakash Jaiswal and other Congress leaders arrived in the state capital Bhubaneswar to visit the riot hit region. However, the state government prevented them from carrying on saying that the situation is not conducive.

Jaiswal and the other Congress leaders are scheduled to visit the region Thursday.

On Monday, the VHP called for a statewide shutdown. Since then, 11 people have been killed in the state, 10 in Kandhamal alone, district collector Krishan Kumar told IANS.

On Tuesday, Hindus and Christians clashed in the district’s Barakhama village leaving four people, including a woman, dead.

Besides the three bodies just discovered, two people were killed in Tiangia village on Monday - though police could reach there only Tuesday as the villagers had blocked the road with massive wooden logs.

Another person, a paralytic patient, was lynched and burnt in Rupa village Sunday night.

Violence also reared its ugly head in Bargarh district, about 300 km from here, when a woman was burnt alive after mobs torched an orphanage in Khuntpali village Monday — when several churches were burnt and rail and road traffic adversely impacted.

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.

Radical Hindu groups in the state blamed the Church for the crime and alleged that Christians killed Saraswati because he was opposing religious conversion. Christian organisations deny these allegations.

Saraswati’s supporters have been holding protests since Saturday night, blocking trains and vehicles. Orissa is not new to communal violence between Hindus and Christians.

On Jan 22, 1999, Australian missionary Graham Staines and his two sons, 10-year-old Philip and six-year-old Timothy, were burnt alive by a Hindu radical mob in their vehicle in Keonjhar district.

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