Tributes paid to slain Hindu leader in Orissa (Lead)September 6th, 2008 - 6:53 pm ICT by IANS
Bhubaneswar, Sep 6 (IANS) Hundreds of Hindu saints congregated in the Orissa capital Saturday to pay tributes to their leader whose Aug 23 killing sparked communal violence in the state.The gathering took place even as an order prohibiting the assembly of four or more people was issued here to prevent Hindu groups from carrying out processions to mourn Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati’s death.
However anticipating trouble, the authorities relaxed the prohibitory order even after at least 50 Hindus were detained at different places, official sources said.
“We detained some people initially but later allowed them (to carry out the procession),” deputy commissioner of police Himanshu Lal told IANS.
“There was no trouble and the meeting passed off peacefully,” he said.
Saraswati, a central advisory committee member of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), and four of his associates were shot dead by unknown gunmen at his Jalespata Ashram, some 340 km from here in Kandhamal district.
The police suspect Maoist rebels killed them but some Hindu groups blamed Christians for the murders and went on the rampage. Christian groups have repeatedly denied the charge.
Since the evening of Aug 23, the state has witnessed communal violence in which 16 people have died and thousands have been rendered homeless. It forced the government to deploy police and paramilitary forces in 12 of the 30 districts of Orissa.
Earlier, Hindu groups had announced to carry out processions in Bhubaneswar Saturday to mourn the Aug 23 killings.