Shivraj Patil to visit riot-hit Orissa district

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Bhubaneshwar, Jan 2: Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil will visit Orissa today to take stock of the situation arising out of recent attacks on the Christian community and its institutions.

During his day-long visit, Patil will visit Brahmanigaon and Barakhama villages, the worst-affected places in the Kandhamal district during the communal clashes. A team of National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) will visit Orissa soon to review the situation. Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh has assured Church leaders that the government will take steps to provide full security to Christians in Orissa and protect religious freedom guaranteed under the Constitution to them.

Dr. Singh has also assured that steps would be taken to offer appropriate compensation for damage to property. Meanwhile, Christian bodies have demanded a probe by Central agency into the arson. "We want a Central Bureau of Investigation enquiry into every death and every case of arson. There must be an independent third party enquiry from outside the state," said John Dayal, National Secretary of the All India Catholic Union and a member of the National Integration Council.

At least three people were killed in the violence that was sparked off on December 24 when Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) activists led mobs burnt down churches.

Over a dozen churches and prayer houses in Khandamal District were torched by the suspected saffron activists over Christmas celebrations. The saffron activists were reportedly agitated following an attack on VHP leader Laxamanananda Saraswati, who led an anti-conversion movement.

 

ANI
 

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