Death toll rises to ten in Orissa violence

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Bhubaneswar, Aug 27: The death toll increased to ten in the Orissa's Kandhamal district in the curfew imposed following the incident of killing of VHP leader Laxmananda Saraswati. The police opened a fire to disperse the violent mob who tried attacking the places of worship, prayer halls in Barakhama of Kandhamal district and four people wre killed in the police fire. Three people were killed when their houses were torched in Raikia area two others, including a woman were killed when a missionary-run orphanage was set on fire on Monday, Aug 25.

A church in Kandhamal district has demanded resignation of the Orissa Chief Minister, Naveen Patnaik following the case of an orphanage run by Christian missionaries that was set ablaze on Monday, Aug 25 night. A state of high alert was observed in places of Kandhamal.

Curfew was imposed in places of Phulbani, Baliguda, Tumbdibandh and Nuagon areas of Kandhamal district and situation remained tense in various pockets of Bargarh, Sundergarh, Koraput, Boudh and Sambalpur districts as well.

Two companies of the Rapid Action Force (RAF) were rushed to Kandhamal by the Central Government and six additional companies were also deployed. At least eight churches were set on fire across the state during Monday's bandh, out of which six were in Kandhamal.

The Story Behind Violence

A 45-year-old woman, employed as a cook in a missionary school in Orissa"s Bargarh district, was burnt to death on Monday, Aug 25 when the school was set on fire allegedly by Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) protesters. The pastor running the school was also injured. Initial reports said that it was a nun who was burnt alive. Later it was confirmed that the woman who dies was the cook of the school.

The VHP-sponsored bandh, to protest against the killing of their leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati and four disciples, witnessed attacks on churches and missionary schools across the state, reminiscent of the Graham Staines case in January 1999. In Bhubaneswar, the state capital, protesters stoned a church. Churches in Kandhamal, Bargarh, Koraput Deogarh districts were also attacked.

Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati, a member of VHP's central advisory committee, and four other people were killed at his Jalespata ashram, some 340 km from here, Saturday, Aug 23 evening after more than 30 suspected Maoist rebels opened fired on them. The ashram is in Kandhamal district.

Kandhamal remained tense as the Swami was cremated at his Ashram.

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