There was no let up in the violence in Orissa, especially in Kandhamal district, where VHP supporters returning from Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati’s cremation late on Monday night damaged several churches and torched a few police stations, officials sources said. Houses belonging to Christians also were not spared. The clashes claimed three lives in Tiangia village of Kandhamal district.
Supporters blocked roads by felling trees making it difficult for police to reach the troubled spots. Till late on Tuesday afternoon, they could not reach Tiangia village.
Southern range divisional commissioner Satyabrata Sahu told HT: “Of the three people who died in Tiangia village, two are Christians and one is a Hindu. Already two companies of RAF and four companies of CRPF have been deployed in Kandhamal district. Another four companies of RAF will soon arrive. Seven blocks of the district still remain very tense.”
Curfew has been imposed in Phulbani, Tumudibandh, Baliguda, Udaygiri, Nuagaon and Tikabali towns to contain the conflagration. Apart from Kandhamal, the situation is tense in Bargarh, Sundargarh, Sambalpur, Koraput, Deogarh and Kendrapara districts.
Archbishop Raphael Cheenath of Bhubaneswar-Cuttack Archdiocese said: “In December, the attack on the Christian community was confined to Kandhamal district, but it has now spread to all districts. The attackers are systematically targeting the Christians. As compared to the December attacks of last year when they targeted the Church property and buildings, they are targeting our priests, nuns and others working in the churches.”
“Had the government apprehended the criminals, who carried out the attacks in December, it would have deterred them from carrying out similar attacks this time. I’m dejected about the inaction of the government,” he added.
At the ground level, there is still palpable anger over the Swami’s killing. Lingaraj Dal Behera, the vice-president of the Kandhamal district unit of the BJP said: “People’s anger will subside only when the actual culprits who killed the Swami will be nabbed. The police cannot shift the blame to the Naxals, which is pure hogwash.”
For the second consecutive day unruly scenes played out in the Assembly, as the Congress demanded CM Naveen Patnaik’s resignation.