Women defiant, demonstrate in Orissa’s riot-hit district

September 10th, 2008 - 9:50 pm ICT by IANS  

Bhubaneswar, Sep 10 (IANS) Thousands of women Wednesday defied a ban on the gathering of five or more people and demonstrated at a police station and a government office in Orissa’s riot-hit Kandhamal district to demand release of those arrested on the charge of rioting, an official said.“At least 3,500 women gathered in front of the police station and block office at G. Udayagiri. They were demanding the release of some people arrested on the charge of rioting,” District Collector Krishan Kumar told IANS.

“They were also demanding lifting of the prohibitory orders and closure of the relief camps set up in the region by the administration after communal clashes,” he said.

Swami Laxmananda Saraswati, a central advisory committee member of the Vishwa Hindu Parisad (VHP) and four others, were shot dead by unidentified gunmen at his Jalespata Ashram in Kandhamal district Aug 23.

The police suspect Maoist rebels killed them but some Hindu groups blamed Christians for the murder and went on the rampage. The Christian groups have repeatedly denied the allegation.

Since the evening of Aug 23, the state has witnessed communal violence in which 17 people, mostly in Kandhamal district, have died and thousands have been rendered homeless.

The government deployed police and paramilitary forces in 12 of the 30 districts of Orissa.

Since then, the ban on gathering of five or more people has been in force in many parts of the district and curfew has been clamped in most of its towns.

The ban order is still in force across the district, although the curfew is now only in force during night in major towns.

On Sep 4, several people were injured when a mob of women clashed with the police at a relief camp in the district.

The women armed with sticks and axes forcibly entered the relief camp, alleging that despite being riot victims, the administration was not concerned about them because they were Hindus.

The women, belonging mostly to tribal areas, were demanding food and withdrawal of the prohibitory orders.

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