Bhubaneswar, Sep 2 (PTI) The communal riots following the killing of Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati have been unfortunate, Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today said.
Stating that the people of the state had a long record of being peaceful, secular and tolerant to all faiths, Patnaik told reporters the riots were "an unfortunate occurence during the eight-and-a-half years of my government." Claiming that situation in Kandhamal and Koraput was "considerably under control," he said, "Two unfortunate incidents took place recently. The first incident took place in December 2007 and the other one a few days ago." While three persons were killed in the communal violence after an attack on Saraswati on the eve of Christmas last year in Kandhamal, 16 people have died in the ongoing violence which has spread to other districts.
The government has admitted that 558 houses and 17 churches and prayer houses have been burnt in the violence which is still continuing.
Unofficial sources claim that over 30 people have been killed in the violence in Kandhamal district alone.
Our take on it:
This statement has come too late and is too soft. Especially if you consider that the Chief Minister later went on record to say that situation was now "normal" (reported in the Times of India, 3rd Sep 08). The figures are being grossly understated. The Swami was violent even in his death, but the silence of the Chief Minister killed more.