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Tension in Orissa on Christmas day

Orissa's Phulbani district was tense on Christmas Day with the Vishwa Hindu Parishad calling a four-hour shutdown.

india Updated: Dec 25, 2007 14:46 IST

Orissa's Phulbani district was tense on Christmas Day on Tuesday with the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) calling a four-hour shutdown, shops closed and 600 police personnel trawling the roads after several clashes between Christians and Hindus the day before.

The trouble started on Monday morning at the Christian majority Brahmanigaon village, 150 kms from the district headquarters of Phulbani, over the celebration of Christmas.

While the local Christian community wanted to celebrate the event in a grand way, the local Hindus opposed the plan, district police Chief Narasimha Bhol told IANS. This led to a clash between local Hindu and Christian groups in which at least four people were injured.

The trouble escalated in the afternoon after a group of people attacked the vehicle of local Hindu leader Swami Laxamananda Saraswati near neighbouring Daringbadi village when he was on his way to the trouble spot to perform a yagna.

While his vehicle was partially damaged, Saraswati and one of those accompanying him were injured, Bhol said.

In retaliation, some people attacked a church, set it on fire and attacked a vehicle at Baliguda town on Monday night.

People of both communities have lodged police complaints against each other.

Four people, all Hindus, have been held for inciting communal tension in the region.

According to reports from the area, shops were closed and vehicular movement affected in places where the clashes had taken place as the VHP shutdown came into effect.

Although the situation has remained tense it is under control, Bhol said.

Phulbani is considered one of the most communally sensitive districts in the state with numerous clashes between Hindus and Christians being reported in the past.