Situation in Kandhamal improving: Naveen Patnaik

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Bhubaneswar, Dec 26 (UNI) Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today said the situation in Kandhamal district was improving after a curfew was imposed yesterday following a communal clash between the tribals and Christian communities.

Reviewing the situation at a high-level meeting here, Mr Patnaik said 27 platoons of police had been deployed in the district to prevent any untoward incident.

Besides, three companies of CRPF rushed to the troubled area from Sambalpur and Rayagada district.

Mr Patnaik also directed Water Resources Principal Secretary Arabinda Behera to rush to Kandhamal and help maintain normalcy there.

Industrial Development Corporation chairman Ashok Meena also visited the district.

The Chief Minister also directed the Police Superintendents of Boudh and Gajapati to move to the district along with 20 officers from the neighbouring districts to assist the administration in restoration of peace.

The curfew was clamped in Phulbani town and Baliguda sub-division, including Daringibadi and Brahmanigaon in the district yesterday following large scale violence after the killing of a tribal whose mutilated body was found near Barakhama village.

Irate tribals led by VHP activists ransacked and torched two churches at Barakhama, Baliguda and Chakapada to protest the killing.

Official sources said the miscreants also set the Tikabali police station and eight vehicles on fire and ransacked the houses of State Steel and Mines Minister Padmanav Behera at Phirinigia and Nuagaon.

The authorities have deployed about 26 platoons of police force in all the sensitive areas in Kandhamal to maintain the law and order situation.

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

The trouble erupted on December 24 when the tribals opposed a gate erected to celebrate Christmas.

Both the communities indulged in brick batting and the situation took an ugly turn when three tribals sustained bullet injuries during the clash.

The situation worsened further after Swami Laxamananda Saraswati 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.

Soon after, the VHP called for a four-hour Orissa bandh yesterday during which fresh violence erupted in Kandhmal leading to imposition of curfew last night in four places.

UNI

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