After a brief and uneasy lull, violence returned to strife-ridden Kandhamal district of south Orissa on Monday night when about 500 people attacked a police outpost and shot dead a policeman.
The mob also torched the Gochhapada police outpost and two vehicles parked on the premises.
Police believe the attack was in retaliation to police firing in Kurtamagarh area on a mob last Saturday, to stop them from attacking churches and Christian homes. Four people had died in the police firing.
Orissa police chief Gopal C. Nanda said: “The situation is now under control. The police will soon nab the people responsible for the attack on the police outpost.”
The state government on Monday wrote to the Centre, requesting it to station 40 companies of central paramilitary forces currently deployed in the state till the end of October.
According to the state government’s estimates, 134 churches and prayer halls have been damaged in the communal clashes in Kandhamal and other districts of Orissa since violence broke out on August 23. Of these, 37 churches were burnt.
Kandhamal was the worst affected with 90 per of attacks taking place in the district.
In all, 25 people have been killed in these clashes including the policeman who died on Monday night.
The clashes followed the gunning down of a senior VHP leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati and four others by unidentified assailants. While police suspected the involvement of Naxalites in the attack, Hindu leaders alleged that Christian groups were responsible for the deaths.