BHUBANESWAR (ICNS) -- Two more people were killed on Sept. 30 in continuing violence in Orissa as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh assured world leaders he would protect Christians' religious freedom.
These raised the number of confirmed deaths to 49 since violence began in the eastern Indian state on Aug. 24. In the latest upsurge, about 250 houses were also destroyed, UCA News reported.
As reports of fresh violence came in, Singh advised the state government "to maintain utmost vigil and ensure law and order and protection to life and property of all citizens," according to a Sept. 30 official release from the Prime Minister's Office.
Singh also "has condemned the renewed violence (in Orissa) and appealed to people to maintain peace and harmony," the statement added.
These political steps came after Singh reportedly promised to protect Christians' constitutional rights when he addressed European Union (EU) leaders on Sept. 29 during the EU-India summit in Marseille, France. The Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI) welcomed that promise.
Sources in the Cuttack-Bhubaneswar archbishop's house confirmed to UCA News on Oct. 1 that at least 250 more Christian houses were destroyed and burned down in a few villages near G. Udayagiri town, in worst-hit Kandhamal district.
Police imposed a curfew in most affected areas after the two confirmed killings on Sept. 30, the sources said, adding that they do not have further details on that situation.
However, they also received reports of extremists setting off explosions near some relief camps. An estimated 20,000 people have sought shelter in 14 relief camps the government set up for victims, mostly in Kandhamal.
"People are afraid. Many are leaving the camps to cities outside Kandhamal, since they feel even the camps are not safe," a priest told UCA News. Bhubaneswar now has "thousands of such people," he said. "We cannot estimate. People keep coming.