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Violence eclipses cops, curfew

Bhubaneswar, Dec. 26: Fresh violence erupted today at Kondhmal district despite curfew in sensitive areas and prohibitory orders at Phiringia, Tikabali, Udaygiri and Raikia.

In the evening the situation was under control and the curfew was relaxed for a few hours, said officials. Central paramilitary forces, which were moved from Rayagada, Sambalpur and Rourkela, have arrived in Kondhmal.

Chief minister Naveen Patnaik and director-general of police G.C. Nanda claimed the situation was improving after yesterday’s clashes and burning of churches.

But the situation was ugly earlier in the day. Like yesterday, the movement of police forces and reinforcements were restricted by roadblocks caused by felling of trees, said Kondhmal superintendent of police (SP) N. Bhol.

The untoward incidents took place outside Barakhama and in Jaleshpata, where 11 were injured in stone pelting. Four houses were torched outside Barakhama, while six others were set ablaze in Jaleshpata, the police said.

The chief minister, reviewing the situation, asked senior IAS officers Aurobindo Behera and Ashok Meena to rush to the affected areas. Both were posted as the collector of Kondhmal district.

The SPs of neighbouring Boudh and Gajapati districts and 20 police officers have been ordered to rush to Phulbani town to contain the violence, said a senior officer of the state home department.

At the review meeting, Naveen stressed that peace and communal harmony be restored in Kondhmal. He repeated his appeal to the people of Kondhmal to maintain peace at the BJD rally, too.

Meanwhile, the Orissa unit of the All-India Christian Council (AICC) today held the state government responsible for the attacks on churches and Christian outfits in Kondhmal.

“The government does not appear to have taken the matter seriously and the slackness on the part of the administration is evident,” said AICC’s state unit president Pran Ranjan Parichha, demanding more security personnel in affected areas.

While Christian leaders said the trouble was started by Hindu fundamentalists, leaders of Hindu Jagaran Samukhya (HJS) today blamed the minority community at Brahmanigaon and an NGO for the communal tension.

At a news conference here today, HJS official Basudev Barik said temples at Jalespata, Baliguda and Tumudibandha were vandalised or damaged by the minority community. Condemning Monday’s attack on Swami Laxmnanda Saraswati, Barik demanded arrest of all those involved in the incident.

Meanwhile, the victim of the yesterday’s mob violence has been identified as Barakhamba village resident Khage Mallick.

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