A judge probing the August 23 killing of a Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader in Kandhamal district of Orissa and the subsequent attacks on Christians that have been going on for months said on Monday the investigations could take one and a half years to complete.
SC Mohapatra, a retired judge of the Orissa High Court, was appointed last month by the state government to probe the murder of Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati and four of his aides at Jalespata ashram and the ensuing violence in Kandhamal district.
Mohapatra, who is on a four day tour of the district since Saturday, visited Jalespata ashram, met inmates and visited several villages where churches and houses were burnt. He also held discussions with district and administration officials.
"The situation is not grave now," Mohapatra told a TV channel by phone from Kandhamal, some 200 km from here. "I visited several villages and people told me they are prepared to welcome those who want to return. It may take at least one and a half years to complete the probe."
At least 36 people, most of them Christians, were killed and thousands of homes burnt in the district during the violence.
On Saturday night, a Hindu man was critically injured after some unidentified people opened fire on him in a remote village under Katingia police station in Kandhamal district. The homes of a Hindu and a Christian were torched in G Udayagiri area the same night, police said.
Curfew has been lifted since Friday night in many part of Kandhamal as normalcy is gradually returning, barring some isolated incidents.