Kandhamal (Orissa), Sep 1: With Kandhamal getting relieved to a certain extent, people who had fled to the jungles for fear of their lives after communal violence hit Kandhamal district of Orissa have started returning. Among those who first fled to the jungles were the 21 children of a remote orphanage in the region. Gidhina Nayak, one of the orphans said that the orphanage that was burnt down was the world for him and he is now clueless about his future.
"I have been living here with these people who gave me books to study and clothes to wear. But then that day, some people came and burnt down our place. We had to run away to the jungles of Shishamandi. We don't know what to do now," Nayak added. The orphanage at Bargah was torched during the religious violence on August 25.
According to reports the mob, before setting the orphanage on fire, beat up the priest and drove away children.
Mina Diggal, a worker at the orphanage said, "Why wouldn't we be scared? The situation was like that only we had children of the orphanage with us, we had our own children, there were no vehicles on the way and we had to travel on foot all the way, it was really scary."
As the situation improved, about 5,000 people were accommodated in relief camps set up at seven places in Kandhamal and free kitchens were opened.
Police protection was being provided at relief camps and magistrates deployed at all sensitive places. Altogether 85 criminal cases, including 11 in Kandhamal district, relating to murder, arson and rioting were registered across the state.
In the violence-hit areas such as Udaygiri, Raikia, K Nuagaon, Balliguda, Phiringia, Tikabali and Chakapada hundreds of people are moving in to relief camps, seeking shelter, food and water.
Meanwhile, a group of intellectuals, academicians, human rights activists and students organised a candlelight vigil in Bangalore against the increasing violence in Orissa on Friday.