A violent clash took place on Monday between members of two communities at Brahmanigaon town of Kandhamal district, nearly 400 km from the state capital allegedly over Christmas celebrations. Ten people belonging to both the groups were injured.
The situation took a turn for the worse later in the day when an important Hindu religious leader Laxmanananda Saraswati was attacked allegedly by some Christian members while he was on his way to visit the troubled spot.
The Viswa Hindu Parishad, the Bajrang Dal and other outfits belonging to the Sangh Parivar have called for Orissa bandh on Tuesday to protest against the attack on Swami Laxmananda Saraswati.
The police at the Bramnaigaon police station told Hindustan Times that trouble began in the morning when some Hindu groups suddenly started demolishing the gates erected to celebrate Christmas. Christian groups in the town then resisted the attackers.
Satyabrata Sahu, divisional commissioner of southern range, told Hindustan Times, “I’m rushing to the spot along with the DIG. Till Sunday, we were in Kandhamal district and had held talks with community leaders from both sides to maintain peace.”
Nearly 18 per cent of the population in Kandhamal district belongs to the Christian community and Christians have been attacked in this area in the past. On August 26, 2004, a church in Raikia town in the same Kandhamal district was attacked.
…this post forwarded by Windsor Humanist, Alexander Neil, after a December 24, 2007 article by Soumyajit Pattnaik in The Hindustan Times
Authorities say a prominent conservative Hindu figure, 80-year-old Swami Laxmananda Saraswati, was attacked on his way to a town where gunfire had broken out over the installation of public Christmas decorations. Hindu mobs took to the streets to protest the assault on the official of the VHP, the acronym for the World Hindu Council. The VHP is active in the area trying to convert Christians to Hinduism.
Media reports say a member of the Kui tribe was hit by a rock and killed when he was caught between clashing Hindus and Christians. About 25 other people have been injured in the escalating violence since Monday.
Vijay Kumar Nayak, who heads the Ashakiran organization, a volunteer group dedicated to conflict resolution in the troubled district, blames authorities for not doing enough to prevent violence.
“I feel really sorry about our government and our police department who cannot control the difficulties and problems. They don’t take precautions,” said Mr. Nayak. “When everything is finished, the destruction is done, houses have burned, churches have burned, Christians are killed, they implement the rules and all that.”
On Wednesday, the national Hindu newspaper described the area as a “virtual war zone,” which is now under indefinite curfew.
…this post forwarded by Windsor Humanist, Alexander Neil, after a December 26, 2007 article by Steve Herman via The Voice of America