Orissa seeks more forces to curb Kandhamal violence

September 25th, 2008 - 11:00 pm ICT by IANS  

Bhubaneswar, Sept 25 (IANS) Orissa sought 10 additional companies of paramilitary forces to curb the communal violence in Kandhamal district after fresh violence broke out in the region Thursday, an official said.”At present 29 companies of forces are deployed in the district and we have now sought 10 more companies,” a senior home department official told IANS. The state government is also sending seven more companies of forces from other districts to Kandhamal, he added.

Tension continued in the volatile district Thursday after more houses owned by Christians were set on fire and hundreds of people clashed with the police and blocked roads.

Officials said clashes broke out Wednesday night after the police tried to prevent mobs from torching Christian homes.

“The police and CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) personnel chased away the people who were trying to set houses on fire in Daringbadi block, but some houses were damaged Wednesday night. The situation in the region is tense,” District Collector Krishan Kumar told IANS.

Oriya daily Sambad reported that the mob burnt at least a dozen houses as well as a church and a prayer house in villages under Daringbadi block.

On Wednesday, the people also blocked several roads with wooden logs to protest the killing of a man in police firing in Raikia town, about 280 km from here.

More than 1,000 people, mostly women, had Tuesday surrounded a police station in Raikia, demanding the release of two people arrested Monday on charges of rioting.

The mob pelted stones, forcing the police and CRPF troopers to resort to a baton charge and then to open fire. One person was killed and 25 people, including many policemen, were injured.

“We managed to remove the wooden logs by Wednesday night and sent around 150 policemen and paramilitary troopers to the area,” Kumar said.

They joined the 500 policemen and CRPF personnel who had been camping in the area since the firing, he said.

Kandhamal district has been suffering communal violence since Aug 23, when Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Swami Laxmananda Saraswati and four others were shot dead by unidentified gunmen at his Jalespata Ashram.

Since then, thousands of people have been rendered homeless, many churches attacked and at least 25 people, mostly Christians, killed in the state.

Orders prohibiting gathering of five or more persons are still in force in the district and night curfew is imposed in most towns.

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