Curfew in Kandhmal, Churches attacked

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Bhubaneswar, Dec 25: Curfew was clamped in Phulbani town and Baliguda sub division including Daringibadi and Brahmanigaon area in Kandhamal district following large scale violence in the wake of killing of a tribal in Barakhama village today.

Irate tribals led by the VHP activists ransacked churches at Barakhama, Baliguda and Chakapada and set the assets on fire in protest against the killing of the tribal whose mutilated body was found near Barakhama village. The tribal was hacked to death by some miscreants which led to fresh tension in the area. Official sources said the miscreants set fire to the Tikabali police station, burnt eight vehicles and ransacked the houses of State Steel and Mines Minister Padmanav Behera at Phirinigia and Nuagaon.

Realising the gravity of the situation the authorities deployed about 26 platoons of police force in all the sensitive areas in the trouble torn Kandhamal district to prevent further escalation of the law and order situation.

Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, appealed to the people of Kandhamal district to maintain peace and communal harmony. The Chief Minister in a message said Orissa has a long tradition of maintaining communal harmony and urged the people to cooperate with the district administration's effort to restore peace in the area.

Kandhamal district Superintendent of Police Narasingha Bhol said so far 17 people from both tribal and Christian communities were arrested on charges of attacking Swami Laxamanananda Saraswati and ransacking the shops.

The Kandhamal district today witnessed road blockades at various places by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) activists to protest the attack on the tribal by the Christian communities.

The VHP had called for a four hour Orissa Bandh from 0800 hours to 1200 hours as a result both road and rail traffic were affected at many places in the state.

Mr Bhol said while the RSS supporters had blocked the road at Baliguda, G Udaygiri and Raikia, the Qui samaj had blocked the roads at Phulbani, Khajirpada and Tukabali and the Christian community at Brahamnigaon and Daringibadi area.

The district authority had convened the peace committee meeting in Phulbani town tomorrow to diffuse the tension and restore peace in the area.

The trouble started when the tribals opposed a gate erected by the Christian on a disputed land to celebrate Christmas. Both the community indulged in brick batting and the situation took an ugly turn when three tribals sustained bullet injuries during the clash The situation turned further worse when Swami Laxamananda Sarswati of Chakapada Ashram was attacked by some miscreants while he was proceeding to the scene with some of his followers to enquire about the incident.

The Deputy Inspector General of Police and Superintendent of police were camping in the area to monitor the law and order situation.

UNI

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