Sunday, August 24, 2008

Probe ordered into ashram attack

Prafulla Das

BHUBANESWAR: As tension continued to prevail in most parts of Orissa following the killing of Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Swami Lakshmanananda and four others in Kandhamal district on Saturday, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Sunday ordered a judicial inquiry into the incident.

Mr. Patnaik, who held a review meeting at the secretariat, condemned the attack in which the religious leader and his disciples were killed by suspected naxalites. “Those guilty will be dealt with stringently,” he said.

The Chief Minister also announced an ex gratia amount of Rs. 2 lakh to the next of kin of those killed.

Mr. Patnaik appealed to the people to maintain peace and harmony among different sections.

Although the police launched a combing operation in the region, there was no trace of the attackers till Sunday evening.

Tension started building up in many parts of the State by Saturday midnight when news of the killing spread. The activists of the VHP, Bajrang Dal and allied organisations blocked roads at several places.

Protests continued on Sunday and tyres were burnt and vehicles damaged. Two prayer houses were attacked in Kandhamal and Sundargarh districts.

A police outpost and few government offices were attacked in Kandhamal district even as prohibitory orders were imposed to maintain law and order.

Two detained

At Gunjiguda in Kandhamal, two persons, allegedly involved in the attack, were caught by villagers and handed over to the police. The two were detained, police said.

Meanwhile, the VHP, the Bajrang Dal and the Hindu Jagaran Samukhya gave a call to observe a statewide bandh on Monday to register their protest against the killing.

In view of the bandh call, the State government announced closure of all educational institutions.

Police have been put on high alert in sensitive pockets, Director General of Police Gopal Chandra Nanda said.

Meanwhile, Opposition parties have demanded the dismissal of the Biju Janata Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party coalition government for its “failure” to prevent the killing.

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