Orissa govt orders CB inquiry into death of Catholic priest

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Bhubaneswar, Oct 30 (UNI) The Orissa government today ordered a Crime Branch (CB) inquiry into the death of a Catholic priest, who was injured in the communal violence in Kandhamal in August and died in a private hospital in Chennai on October 28.

Orissa Director General of police M M Praharaj said the Crime Branch would inquire into the circumstances that led to death of the 47-year-old Father Bernard Digal.

The CB, official sources said, would inquire as to whether the priest succumbed to the injuries he sustained during the communal violence in Kandhamal or of any other diseases.

All India Christian Council General Secretary John Dayal yesterday, in a statement, claimed that Father Digal, a native of the strife-torn Kandhamal district, was the first Roman Catholic priest killed in the violence.

He said the Father was attacked on August 24, a day after VHP leader Swami Laxmananda Saraswati and four of his disciples were gunned down by some unknown assailants.

During the attack, Father Digal was brutally beaten up and left in a field overnight. The next morning, he was taken to a local hospital and later shifted to a private hospital in Bhubaneswar.

The priest was later taken to Mumbai, from where he was released after recovery, but was recently admitted to a Chennai hospital where he breathed his last.

The Kandhamal police maintained that no FIR was lodged in connection with the attack on Father Bernard Digal.

His body was flown in from Chennai to Bhubaneswar and at the request of the Christian leaders, the doctors at the Capital Hospital conducted the autopsy to ascertain the cause of the death.

The body has been kept at the local church here to allow the well wishers to pay their last respect to the departed soul. It would be cremated here tomorrow, All Orissa Baptist Churches Federation Convenor Dr Swarupananda Patra said.

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