Monday, August 25, 2008

Orphanage set on fire in Orissa village, nun killed

Bhubaneswar: A nun was burnt to death and a priest injured when suspected Sangh Parivar activists set fire to an orphanage run by Christian missionaries in a village in Orissa’s Bargarh district on Monday.

First reports from Khuntapali village say the suspected Sangh Parivar activists first pulled out children from the orphanage and then set it ablaze at around 1600 hrs. The 25-year-old nun and the priest were trapped inside. The priest is now recovering in a hospital.

In the past Hindu extremists in Orissa have attacked Christian missionaries. In 1999 an Australian missionary, Graham Staines, and his two sons were killed by a mob that set their car on fire.

The incident occurred during the Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s (VHP) statewide bandh (shutdown) in Orissa to protest against the murder of its leader in Kandhamal district on Saturday.

Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati, a member of VHP's central advisory committee, and four other people were killed at his Jalespata ashram in Kandhamal district, 340 km from Bhubaneswar, on Saturday evening after more than 30 suspected Maoist rebels opened fire on them.

Over a dozen churches and prayer halls were torched, police outposts attacked and about 15 vehicles damaged in the communally sensitive Kandhamal district during the bandh.

Two churches were damaged in Phulbani town and two police outposts were ransacked near Nuagaon, while churches and prayer halls were attacked in Baliguda, Barkhama, Tikabali and Udaigiri areas.

Activists accompanying body of the slain leader defied curfew and held processions passing through Phulbani town, attacking churches, houses and vehicles of one community, police said.

In the state capital, saffron activists fanned out in large numbers in order to enforce the bandh and blocked important roads and intersections.

Road and rail traffic was affected while shops and business establishments remained closed across the state during the bandh, supported by the BJP, a coalition partner in the ruling combine.

(With inputs from PTI and IANS)

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