Shoot at sight orders issued to end violence in Orissa (Lead)

August 27th, 2008 - 5:19 pm ICT by IANS  

Bhubaneswar, Aug 27 (IANS) Shoot at sight orders were issued Wednesday in Orissa’s Kandhamal district as mobs defied curfew, blocked roads and attacked churches and Christian homes to avenge the killing of a Hindu leader.”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.

But despite curfew in most parts of the district, mobs set up road blocks and also set fire to churches and vehicles, officials and witnesses said.

The latest outbreak of violence was reported from rural areas where the police have failed to reach, Sahu said.

The death toll in the communal violence meanwhile rose to 11 after officials recovered three more bodies of people attacked this week. But local sources said the number of dead could be more.

One body was discovered from Phiringia and another from Raikia in the district.

“One of them had died Monday and the other Tuesday. Both died after mobs attacked them,” said Kandhamal district collector Kishan Kumar.

A third person was rescued in a critical condition and died Tuesday night in hospital, Kumar told IANS.

Stray incidents of violence were reported Tuesday night and the situation was tense in many areas in the district, about 340 km from here, he said.

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

Minister of State for Home Sri Prakash Jaiswal and other Congress leaders are scheduled to visit the region Wednesday.

Orissa has been on the boil since the killing of Swami Laxmananand 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 the district.

On Monday, the VHP called for a statewide shutdown. Since then, 11 people have been killed in the state, 10 in Kandhamal alone.

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 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 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 Hindu radical mobs in their vehicle in Keonjhar district.

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