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No let-up in Orissa, Karnataka violence

Posted by jytmkh on September 17, 2008

BHUBANESWAR: The faith-fuelled fire that erupted three weeks back continued to burn through tribal tracts of Orissa on Tuesday.

A policeman was fatally shot when a 500-strong mob of tribals stormed a police station in Gochhapada in a Naxal-style operation. The area is about 35 km from Phulbani, the headquarters of Kandhmal district, where scores of churches and prayer halls have been attacked and mobs have targeted Christians to vent their anger over conversions. ( Watch )

The latest hate fire was sparked off by the killing of Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati at his Jalespeta ashram three weeks back. The VHP leader had been in the forefront of opposing conversions and leading the campaign to re-convert those who had recently embraced Christianity to Hinduism.

Late Monday-Tuesday night, the tribal mob, which included women, burnt the police station and two vehicles and five motorcycles parked there. The tribals then proceeded to Balandapada, about 20 km from there, and torched the police outpost. At both places, they attacked other police establishments as well.

Anger among non-Christian tribals have been rising as police have arrested several from the community for attacking Christians and torching prayer halls in Kandhmal. DIG R P Koche said 26-year-old sepoy Bibhudendra Biswal was on night duty when the armed villagers launched the attack.

“We have deployed one company of CRPF in the area. Police action has been initiated, but there has been no arrest as yet,” the DIG said. This was the first police casualty reported in the state during the current phase of violence. On Saturday, one CRPF jawan had been shot during mob violence at Krutamgada, about 160 km from Phulbani, where three villagers had been killed in the police firing.

Police sources said that ahead of launching the attack on the police station, the tribal protesters had felled trees and blocked all roads leading to the area with huge logs. As they mounted the attack, most of the cops in the station fled. Biswal, who had recently joined the force, was on sentry duty but without a weapon. He, too, tried to flee when a bullet first hit him in the leg and then a second one in the head. Over 250 people have been arrested in Kandhmal district in connection with the communal violence. Night curfew is still on in several towns.

In Bhubaneswar, chief minister Naveen Patnaik reviewed the worsening communal split at a high-level meeting attended among others by the chief secretary, home secretary and the director general of police. The government has decided to retain about 43 companies of CRPF in the state, including 26 companies in Kandhmal district alone, till October-end.

Knives were out in Mangalore as 10 people were stabbed on the city’s outskirts and fires stoked by religious fundamentalists continue to burn the bustling commercial city for the third consecutive day. All schools and colleges were shut, shops remained closed and roads were deserted as Sri Rama Sena forced a shutdown in the city to protest the stabbing of an activist on Monday evening.

Even as the police claimed that all the stabbing incidents were not related to violent attacks on churches, dozens of people were taken into custody by the police. Around 175 people have been arrested in the city so far, over 50 of them for attack on churches and the rest for clashes with Hindu groups and police on Monday.

The trouble started here a couple of days back as Hindu groups began to target churches and prayer halls for the alleged conversion activities of some Christian groups, particularly a sect called the New Life Fellowship. The attacks on minorities in Karnataka seems to be taking a serious turn as violence continues in Orissa and shows no signs of abetting.

On Tuesday, even as Karnataka home minister V S Acharya was in the city to discuss with government officials and community leaders the measures to contain the uninterrupted violence, the city was in the grip of fear and anxiety. (TOI)

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2 Responses to “No let-up in Orissa, Karnataka violence”

  1. claervoice said

    Thanks for the article. Quite informative.
    Read an interesting post on the same topic. I think you will like it.
    http://www.merinews.com/catFull.jsp?articleID=141445

  2. Your information is reaching thousands around the world
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