Riot-hit Kandhmal limping back to normal

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Bhubaneswar, Aug 29 (UNI) Life in the trouble-torn Kandhmal has been limping back to normal today after the week-long riots and violence following the killing of VHP leader Swami Laxmananand Saraswati and four of his disciples on August 23.

Official sources said no major untoward incidents were reported during the past 48 hours.

Meanwhile, the curfew, clamped on nine sensitive pockets of the district in the wake of group clashes, arson, torching of houses and worship places, was relaxed for a few hours today.

The curfew was relaxed from 0800 hours to 1800 hours in Phulbani town and for four hours in other pockets, the sources said.

The violence in the aftermath of the Swamiji's killing had claimed ten lives so far, the majority of them reported in Kandhamal alone, which witnessed communal clashes leading to ransacking and burning of houses and places of worship.

Police patrolling and flag marches were being conducted to restore peace in the area. As many as 26 platoons of Orissa Armed Police, ten companies of CRPF and three companies of Rapid Action Force (RAF) were deployed in almost all the police stations in the district, besides sensitive remote areas.

Bus services, suspended in the wake of arson and violence in Kandhmal district, resumed today from Phulbani. Post offices, banks and ATM counters, which were also closed, started functioning from today, the sources said.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said as many as 11 criminal cases had been registered in Kandhmal in connection with the murder, arson and rioting.

The state government rehabilitated nearly 5,000 people in various relief camps in the blocks and provided them free kitchens under heavy police protection.

The state government expected arrival of more central paramilitary forces to be deployed in the sensitive areas of Kandhmal district to maintain law and order.

Sources said barring stray incidents of minor violence in some remote areas, the overall situation in the riot-hit Kandhmal was fast returning to normalcy.

Meanwhile, the state government appointed Cuttack Deputy Commissioner of Police Praveen Kumar as the new Superintendent of Police of Kandhmal and asked him to join his duty forthwith.

The government had suspended Kandhmal SP Nikhil Kanodia and the officer in charge of Tuudibandh police station, besides the personal security officer of Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati, on charges of dereliction of their duties after the assassination of the Swamiji.

UNI DP DPM KLC1310

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