Monday, December 31, 2007

Orissa CM under fire, cops blame Naxals


Published on Tue, Jan 01, 2008 at 10:33, Updated at Tue, Jan 01, 2008 in Nation section

Tags: Orissa, Hindu-christian Riots , Bhubaneswar

Bhubaneswar: Orissa woke up to a bleak new year on Tuesday as tension continued to simmer in the riot-hit Kandhamal district.

Three people were killed and several injured in the clashes between Hindus and Christians in Kandhamal. Christian groups claim that nine people were killed in the attack by Hindu groups in the tribal dominated area.

According to the Catholic Bishops Conference of India - the premier Christian organisation in the country - five parish churches, 50 village churches and six convents and other Christian institutions were destroyed or damaged in the violence that began on December 22.

The pressure is also building on Orissa CM Naveen Patnaik as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the Minorities Commission prepare to send their teams to Orissa.

On Monday, Patnaik announced a compensation for the victims. “Rs 1 lakh compensation for the dead, Indira Awas Yojana houses for those who lost houses and Rs 10,000 for partially affected,” he said.

But the victims are far from satisfied. Many who fled to jungles fearing for their lives are yet to return. For these people, whether Hindus or Christians, tribals or dalits, the government's promises mean little.

"I have lost everything in the riots. After the riots my sons are all missing leaving their family behind, starving,” says a victim Shanker Nayak.

Christian activists are also in no mood to relent. On Monday, CBCI sought an "unbiased" inquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation. They also want an explanation for government inaction despite the warning of violence.

Christians blame Hindu fundamentalists for the riots. “After Gujarat, it is Orissa's turn. Only in one place the Hindus have been attacked. Christians have not attacked Hindus anywhere else,” says Archbishop, Bhubaneswar, Rapheal Cheenath.

However, the state government has a different story to tell.

"We suspect Naxal involvement in the attacks, but we are not yet confirmed. Even yesterday we found guns from ordinary people in that area,” says DG Police, Orissa, Gopal Nanda.

But the question remains why Naveen Patnaik government could not contain the violence for five days.

Meanwhile, the CBCI has warned the situation would worsen unless immediate and urgent steps are taken

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