Phulbani: The first death
anniversary of VHP leader Laxmanananda Saraswati, whose
killing triggered anti-Christian riots in Kandhamal district
was peaceful on Thursday.
"There was no untoward incident at any place in
Kandhamal. We have taken steps to ensure that peace is
maintained across the district," Director General of Police
(DGP) Manmohan Praharaj, who has been camping in Kandhamal for
two days, told agency over phone.
Over 2,000 security personnel, including the CRPF, Orissa
Special Strike Force, Special Operations Group, Orissa State
Armed Police and Orissa Disaster Rapid Action Force have been
deployed, while the district administration has refused
permission to rallies and dharnas.
"People observed the day at their villages instead of
participating in a silent rally proposed by VHP," the DGP
The VHP observed the anniversary as `Sacrifice Day` in
People who felt insecure were asked to take shelter in
camps, he said.
Maoist posters warning certain Hindu leaders to refrain
from observing Saraswati`s death anniversary were seen at
Tumudibandh, Daringbadi and Kotgarh areas of the district.
The DGP said "We suspect it to be handiwork of
anti-socials and not Maoists."
"We have seized some threatening posters. It is suspected
to be the work of mischief mongers," said Raikia Police
station in-charge officer R N Barik.
Saraswati`s followers held yagnas and took out kalas
processions at Jalespeta and Chakapada ashrams. The turnout,
however, was low because of Maoist threats.
Cuttack-Bhubaneswar Archbishop Raphael Cheenath told
reporters in Bhubaneswar, "though there was no incident of
violence in Kandhamal, Christians are living in fear."
Hoping that the Janmastami would be peaceful, Cheenath
said he was satisfied with the security arrangements made by
The VHP submitted a memorandum to Governor M C Bhandare
stating that though chief minister Naveen Patnaik had given
written assurance to nab the conspirators and killers of
Saraswati, nothing has been done.
The VHP also staged a silent dharna before Raj Bhavan.
State VHP secretary Gouri Prasad Rath said "many Hindus
were killed, but no effort was made to apprehend and punish
He alleged that while government assistance was given to
riot-hit people of a particular community, no such provision
was made for Hindus.
Claiming that religious conversion was a major factor
behind the riots, he demanded proper implementation of the
existing Orissa Freedom of Religion Act.