Two more believed killed in Orissa, cops unable to reach village (Lead)

August 26th, 2008 - 3:53 pm ICT by IANS  

Bhubaneswar, Aug 26 (IANS) Security forces in Orissa were Tuesday desperately trying to reach a village in the communally volatile Kandhamal district where two people were believed to have been killed in clashes triggered by the killing of a Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader last week. The killings had taken place Monday, when a nun was burnt alive after mobs torched an orphanage in Khuntpali village in Bargarh district, about 300 km from here, and a paralytic patient was lynched and also burnt in Rupa village in Kandhamal district, about 340 km from here.

The tension following Monday’s incidents of violence — when several churches were also burnt and rail and road traffic impacted during a VHP statewide shutdown - persisted Tuesday as well with the police trying desperately to get to Tingia village where two people were feared dead.

“According to information we have, two people died in the violence in Tingia village Monday,” police inspector Bijay Kumar Mohapatra told IANS.

“Policemen have been unable to reach the spot because villagers have blocked the roads with huge wooden logs. We are attempting to reach there with the help of paramilitary forces,” he added.

Curfew has been clamped in Kandhamal district, and police and paramilitary forces have held flag marches in troubled towns since Tuesday.

Prohibitory orders under section 144, which prohibits the assembly of five or more people, have been clamped across Kandhamal district.

“Besides we have imposed curfew in three places in the district,” said Inspector General of Police Pradeep Kapoor, listing Baliguda, Phulbani and Tumudibandh towns.

Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati, a member of VHP’s central advisory committee, and four other people were killed at his Jalespata ashram in Kandhamal Saturday evening after more than 30 suspected Maoist guerrillas opened fire on them.

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 have denied these allegations.

Saraswati’s supporters have been holding protests since Saturday night, blocking trains and vehicles.

The state government Sunday ordered a judicial probe into the killings and announced compensation for the victims. Authorities also constituted a special police team to investigate the crime.

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