Orissa rights panel wants report on author’s arrest

December 17th, 2008 - 1:58 pm ICT by IANS  

Bhubaneswar, Dec 17 (IANS) The Orissa Human Rights Commission has sought a report within two weeks from the state government on the arrest of a journalist for writing a book on the recent communal violence in Kandhamal district. Lenin Kumar, editor of the quarterly magazine Nishan, was arrested on Dec 7 for his book “Dharma Nare Kandhamalare Raktara Banya” (Flood of blood in Kandhamal in the name of religion) that blames Hindu groups for the violence.

The commission, led by Justice R.K. Patra, Tuesday sent a communication to the state home department Tuesday after Kumar’s wife Rumita Kundu submitted a petition describing the arrest as illegal and an instance of blatant human rights violation, officials said.

Police had termed Kumar’s book as provocative and aimed at disturbing communal harmony.
Two others who helped him print and circulate the book are also in a Bhubaneswar jail after their bail pleas were rejected.

Police officials say they have seized at least 700 copies of the book from a printing press.

Rights activists, journalists and writers have been demanding Kumar’s release. Last week, about 100 protesters staged a sit-in outside the official residence of the Orissa governor here.

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.

While police blamed Maoists for the killings, some Hindu organisations held Christians responsible for the crime and launched attacks on the community.

At least 36 people were killed in the state and thousands of Christians forced to flee their homes after their houses were attacked by rampaging mobs. About 8,000 people are still living in government-run relief camps in the district.

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