Friday, July 31, 2009

Priest killed in Karnataka

A priest was killed Wednesday in the southern Indian state of Karnataka where Christians have been targeted in violent attacks, the Vatican-based news agency Asianews said Thursday.

The naked body of James Mukalel, 39, was found Thursday morning on a road leading to his parish in the diocese of Belthangady.

According to initial investigations, he was killed while returning to his parish after having conducted a funeral in a neighbouring village.

The bishop of the diocese Lawrence Mukkuzhy did not put forward any theories as to the motive for the killing, but ruled out a straightforward criminal act.

Another diocesan official Tomy Mattom said it looked like an "execution." He said the body had no obvious wounds and initial information led him to believe the priest had been strangled.

An autopsy must be carried out soon to determine the cause of death.

Indian Christian groups have demanded an inquiry into the killing and other attacks on Christians in the region, Asianews said.

Twenty churches and chapels have been destroyed in the past year in Karnataka.

In the eastern state of Orissa last year, thousands of Christians were forced to flee after Hindu mobs burned their houses, churches, orphanages and schools. At least 35 people were killed in the attacks.

Christians account for 2.3 percent of India's billion-plus Hindu majority population.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Minority leaders for longer stay of CRPF in Kandhamal

Bhubaneswar, Jul 23 (PTI) Eleven months after the Kandhamal riots rocked Orissa, minority leaders today sought continued deployment of CRPF in the strife-torn district, claiming there was still fear and anxiety among people due to the alleged pressure to re-convert.
"An atmosphere of fear and anxiety still exists in Kandhamal despite considerable improvement in situation.
People are threatened and asked to re-embrace Hinduism when they return from relief camps to their villages," Archbishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar, Raphael Cheenath told reporters here.
Favouring retention of CRPF in the riot-hit district for more time, he said both the central paramilitary and state forces should remain there to instil confidence among people and restore normalcy.


Monday, July 20, 2009

Naveen for stay of CRPF in Orissa

BHUBANESWAR: Worried over back-to-back attacks by the Naxalites in different parts of the State, including the killing of two security personnel in Sundargarh district, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Sunday sent an SOS to Union Home Minister P Chidambaram requesting him to allow the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) to continue in Kandhamal district till September 30. Naveen has also reiterated his demand for seven more battalions of CRPF to be deployed in the Naxalite-affected districts. The Centre has started withdrawal of CRPF from Kandhamal despite requests from Naveen to extend their stay. Now, five companies of CRPF are left in the strife-torn district.

The base of the Naxalites has increased in Kandhamal which witnessed communal violence last year. The attack on the Katingia police outpost under Bamunigaon police station by the Left-Wing Extremists (LWEs) late on Friday has left the district administration on tenterhooks as it will now have to deal with the situation without the Central forces.

Underscoring the need for deployment of CRPF in the district, Naveen said Kandhamal is Naxalite-affected and had witnessed communal strife last year.

The Centre has recently included Kandhamal in security-related expenditure (SRE) scheme because of the repeated attacks by the Naxalites at different places. The Naxalites had attacked a forest beat house near Daringbadi and triggered landmine blast. Sporadic incidents have taken place in the district pointing to increased presence of the extremists in the area.

Attacks on police stations and forest beat houses in inaccessible areas of Koraput, Gajapati, Mayurbhanj, Sundargarh, Keonjhar and Kandhamal districts have now become regular.

The activities of the Naxalites are on the rise in Narayanpatna and Bandhugaon blocks of Koraput district for the last six months. Ten security personnel were killed at Narayanpatna in a landmine blast suspected to have been triggered by the ultras 24 hours before the visit of Chidambaram to the area last month.

At a time when the Government is grappling with the problem in Narayanpatna block where tribals have seized land from non-tribals during the last one month leading to fleeing of non-tribals from the area, the killing of the sub-inspector in Sundargarh has put the police on the backfoot.

Last month, another police officer was killed by the Naxalites in Sambalpur district.

The incidents have turned out to be embarrassing for the State Government as the Budget session of the Assembly is going on. The Opposition is planning to raise the issue in the House on Monday during the discussion on the Budget for the Home department.

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Kandhamal riot accused MLA's bail extended

Phulbani (Orissa), Jul 17 (PTI) A local court today extended till July 31 the interim bail granted to BJP MLA Manoj Pradhan, accused of inciting communal riots in Orissa's Kandhamal district.
The fast track court of Sovan Kumar Das here extended the bail period of Pradhan, who was granted conditional interim bail for 15 days on July four.
The extension was granted to him on the basis of Orissa High Court's order, special public prosecutor Bijay Patnaik said.
After taking oath as a member of Orissa Assembly following his release on July 5, a day after getting bail, Pradhan had moved the court seeking extension of the bail period to enable him to attend Assembly proceedings

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