Residents of Kandhamal in Orissa to cast votes only if government provides them security

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Kandhamal (Orissa), Mar 27 (ANI): With the general elections less than a month away, residents of Kandhamal district in Orissa have said that they would cast their votes only if the Government provides them security.

Although, the Government claims that normalcy has returned to the region, but people are still scared to venture out.

"We are really scared. Everybody has left the village. In this village, out of seven families, only two families have remained. We want to cast vote, but are scared to go out," said Subarna Mallick, a villager.

Moreover, increasing Maoists activity in the region is another factor why villagers are reluctant to cast their votes.

"I have four sons and daughters-in-law. When the riots took place, our homes were burnt down and they migrated to some other place. In every election, we cast our votes but this time we are not sure. My daughters-in-law do not want to return back home. If the Government provides us protection then only we will cast our votes," said Duryodhan Mallick, another villager.

It may be recalled that last year, a spate of communal violence erupted inandhamal following the killing of a Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Laxmanananda Saraswati and his four disciples by suspected Maoists.

The violence left at least 38 people dead and thousands were forced to flee homes who are yet to return.

The murder of Saraswati in August 2008 sparked weeks of violence against Christians. Police, however, blamed Maoists for the killing of Saraswati.

Police have arrested about 1,000 people, mostly Hindus, in connection with the attacks on Christians in Orissa. Hindu groups deny their involvement in the violence, which was condemned by Pope Benedict. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called it a "national shame".

The violence against Christians in Orissa was followed by similar attacks in Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. (ANI)

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