Orissa’s ruling party takes out peace rally in Bhubaneswar

October 15th, 2008 - 6:38 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata PartyBhubaneswar, Oct 15 (IANS) Orissa’s ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) Wednesday took out a massive peace rally here to reiterate Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s secular credentials in the aftermath of anti-Christian violence in the state.More than 5,000 BJD activists including most of its legislators, MPs, state ministers and people of different religions took out the rally from the Biju Patnaik Park and went in a procession to the master canteen square here.

The participants held placards and banners and many carried photographs of Naveen Patnaik with a slogan that read “each bone of mine is secular”.

“We organised the peace rally here because the situation in Kandhamal is still not conducive to take out a massive rally there,” a senior BJD leader said.

The rally was attended by people from all religions and communities and would help bring peace in Kandhamal, he said.

The BJD is ruling the state in alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is ideologically linked to Hindu nationalist groups such as the Rastriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parisad (VHP).

Christians and their places of worship in the state’s Kandhamal district have been facing mob attacks since Aug 23, when a VHP leader and four of his aides were killed.

Maoist rebels have claimed responsibility for the murder, but some Hindu groups hold Christians responsible for it, despite repeated denials by Christian organisations. At least 36 people have been killed in the violence rendering thousands of Christian homeless.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has described the violence against Christians as a national shame. The central government earlier said it is considering ban on the Bajrang Dal for its alleged role in the violence though the group has denied its involvement.

After coming under severe attack for the violence, Patnaik Monday said the Bajrang Dal was a fundamentalist organisation.

“My party believes that the Bajrang Dal is a fundamentalist group. Let the Centre take a decision on banning Bajrang Dal, then we will react,” he said the NDTV 24×7 channel after attending the National Integration Council (NIC) meeting in New Delhi Monday.

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