Fresh communal trouble in Orissa despite curfew


Bhubaneswar : Despite indefinite curfew, fresh communal violence was reported Wednesday morning from Orissa’s riot hit Kandhamal district with clashes in various places and a church and a former MP’s house being attacked.

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According to police, hundreds of tribals attacked a church at Sarsalanda village under Sadar police station, about 20 km from Phulbani town. A mob also vented their ire on the home of former MP Sribatsa Digal in Line Pada at Phulbani town, an official of the district intelligence bureau said.

Besides, there were reports of communal clashes from half a dozen places but the details were awaited due to “disruption of communication”, the official told IANS.

All these incidents occurred late Tuesday night, despite curfew being imposed in the troubled areas of Baliguda, Daringbadi and Brahmani Gaon as well as at the district headquarters of Phulbani.

Curfew was clamped Christmas night after one person was allegedly killed and over a dozen injured in clashes between Hindus and Christians in the wake of a shutdown called by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) to protest an attack on a Hindu leader.

The four-hour shutdown was to protest an attack Monday on the vehicle of local Hindu leader Swami Laxamananda Saraswati near Daringbadi when he was on his way to perform a yagna there.

Saraswati and a person accompanying him were injured and their vehicle partially damaged, district police chief Narasimha Bhol, who is camping in the area, told IANS.

Although more than 1,000 policemen were deployed in the sensitive places Tuesday, many could not reach many of the trouble spots as VHP supporters blocked roads into the villages with logs.

“The roads are still blocked and the police are trying to reach the village. The state government has sent two companies of paramilitary forces and extra police force to the region to control the situation. They are on their way,” Bhol said.

The trouble had started Monday morning in the Christian-majority Brahmanigaon village, 150 km from the district headquarters of Phulbani, over Christmas celebrations.

While the Christian community wanted to celebrate the day in a grand way, the local Hindus opposed the plan, Bhol said.

This led to clashes between the Hindu and Christian groups. And the attack on Saraswati led to escalation in the violence.

Besides the VHP, the local Kui tribal community had also given a shutdown call demanding immediate solution to their problems. The clashes took place mostly when VHP supporters attacked shops in various places.

At least a dozen churches and a dozen of vehicles including two police vehicles were set on fire. Besides, the protestors attacked the house of elder brother of state steel and mines minister Padmanav Behera and torched one of his vehicles Tuesday, police sources said.

The government has deputed the district superintendents of the neighbouring three districts – Gajapati, Boudh and Ganjam – to the spot, a senior police official in Bhubaneswar said.

The trouble areas are a part of the undivided Phulbani district, considered one of the most communally sensitive regions in the state with numerous clashes reported between Hindus and Christians in the past.