The Orissa government on Thursday assured the Supreme Court that it would take “all possible steps to prevent” the proposed yatra of VHP leader Praveen Togadia carrying the ashes of slain Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati.
The government, however, demanded four more battalions of the CRPF from the Centre to deal with the situation. “We will stop the yatra at the state border and will utilise the force to prevent it from coming into Kandhamal district,” senior counsel KK Venugopal told a bench headed by CJI K.G. Balakrishnan.
The bench was hearing a petition of Cuttack archbishop Raphael Cheenath's seeking a CBI probe into the communal clashes in Kandhamal.
The court expressed hope that “the state police along with CRPF and other paramilitary forces would ensure the law and order situation and people's life and property will be protected to best of their ability.”
It also directed the state government to take urgent steps to see that those in relief camps were protected and miscreants were not allowed to create any problem.
Patil briefs Cabinet
With concern over the communal situation in Orissa mounting at the Centre, Union home minister Shivraj Patil on Thursday briefed the Union Cabinet on the situation.
Patil is also reported to have detailed his yesterday's visit to the state where deserted streets, locked up homes and burnt churches greeted him. Sources indicated that there was a sense at the meeting that the Orissa government could have handled the communal situation better if it had moved swiftly, and sternly.
Left meets President
The Left parties on Thursday met President Pratiba Patil requesting her to ban saffron outfits, VHP and Bajrang Dal, for their “terrorist-like” activities in Orissa. A delegation led by senior CPI(M) leader Brinda Karat told the President that if the government could not ban these outfits, at least it should put them under “serious monitoring”.
With inputs from HTC/PTI