Christians stage protest in Delhi over Orissa religious unrest

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New Delhi, Aug 29 : Christians staged a protest here today against the violence in Orissa's Kandhamal District.

Chanting slogans like 'We Want Justice', and carrying placards and banners to voice their angst at the religious violence and ongoing tension in Kandhamal, the protesters accused religious fundamentalists of infringing human rights.

"The behaviour of the fundamentalists and communal groups has rejected our Constitution. They have no regard for human rights, for constitutional rights, for freedom of conscience. Our people are feeling very insecure there. They are running away and their houses are being burnt by these people," said Vincent Concessao, the Archbishop of Delhi.

The protest came as around 30,000 Christian missionary-run schools and colleges across the country have decided to remain closed today.

The call for a total shutdown came after Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh described the violence in Orissa as a "national shame".

A delegation of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI) on Thursday had called on the Prime Minster and appealed to him to conduct an independent inquiry into the killing of VHP leader Laxamananda Saraswati.

In a backlash to the killing of the VHP leader and four others on Saturday night, the violence has claimed ten lives in Orissa so far.

While the police are still carrying out investigations into the killing of the VHP leader, people of the region are living in a state of panic.

A red alert has been sounded in the affected areas, and the authorities have appealed to the people to help them to restore normalcy.

Shoot-at-sight orders were issued on Wednesday in eight blocks -- Phulbani, Baliguda, Tumudibandh, Raikia, Nuagaon, G Udaygiri, Tikabali and Sankarakhol of Kandhamal District.

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