Orissa’s Kandhamal district getting back to normal

October 9th, 2008 - 2:02 pm ICT by IANS  

Bhubaneswar, Oct 9 (IANS) Life is limping back to normal in Orissa’s Kandhamal district after more than a month of anti-Christian attacks that left at least 35 people dead and forced thousands to flee their homes and live in relief camps or jungles.”There have been no incidents of violence in the past six days,” district superintendent of police S. Praveen Kumar told IANS Thursday.

The violence erupted after the Aug 23 killing of Swami Lakshmanananda Saraswati of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and four others at his ashram in Kandhamal.

Blaming Christians for the murders, thousands of rampaging Hindus burnt Christian homes and churches in the past month. Christian groups have repeatedly denied the charge.

The police this week arrested three people linked to Maoists who are reportedly behind the killing of Saraswati.

The biggest challenge at present before the administration is to ensure that the people in the relief camps return home. Some have gone back, Kumar said.

At least 23,000 people had taken shelter in the relief camps in the district. With many returning to their homes, the number has come down to 15,000, an official said.

However, Christian organisations maintain a large number of their community people have come to state capital Bhubaneswar and Cuttack and taken shelter in churches as well as private and government relief camps.

“They are not willing to return home,” Swarupananda Patra, president of the Orissa Minority Forum, told IANS.

The government has deployed more than 5,000 police and paramilitary personnel in Kandhamal where prohibitory orders are still in force across the district and night curfew is on in nine towns.

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