ommunal violence rocked tribal belts of Orissa after one person was killed and over 12 churches razed during a Vishwa Hindu Parishad sponsored bandh on Christmas Day. The VHP had called the bandh to protest the attack on Laxamanananda Saraswati, who led an anti-conversion movement in the area.
The VHP claimed that the violence was a spontaneous reaction to the attack on their leader.
Curfew was clamped on sensitive areas and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik appealed to the people to maintain peace and communal harmony.
Despite heavy deployment of security personnel, fresh violence and arson continued in the riot-hit districts. The miscreants torched a police station, set 12 more churches on fire and attacked a Congress parliamentarian's house.
Patnaik refused to divulge exactly how many churches or prayer houses had been razed and denied that the government was taking a 'soft' stand towards VHP activists allegedly involved in the violence.
On Friday, the Orissa government ordered a judicial probe into the communal violence.
The probe was ordered by Patnaik, who visited the riot-torn area on Thursday to take stock of the situation.
Image: Protestors set a bus ablaze in Baliguda at Phulbani district in Orissa on Wednesday.
Photograph: PTI Photo
Also See: Twelve more churches razed in Orissa