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Probe into Kandhamal violence begins

Special Correspondent

BHUBANESWAR: The one-man judicial commission set up to probe into widespread communal violence in Kandhamal district and other places in Orissa started its work on Saturday.

Justice Sarat Chandra Mohapatra, who is heading the Commission, visited the Jalespata Ashram where Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Lakshmanananda Saraswati and four others were killed on August 23. Mr. Justice Mohapatra is a former Judge of the Orissa High Court.

Mr. Justice Mohapatra had reached Phulbani, the district headquarters town of Kandhamal, on Friday and held discussions with top officials of the district administration.

He was likely to visit some riot-affected villages and relief camps over the next two days.

Communal violence had started in Kandhamal and other parts of the State soon after the killing of the VHP leader by a group of suspected Maoists.

About 40 people were killed in Kandhamal alone as those protesting the killing of the VHP leader went on attacking houses belonging to Christian families and damaged churches and prayer houses.

Situation reviewed

Director-General of Police Manmohan Praharaj returned to Bhubaneswar after a three-day trip to Kandhamal. During his visit, he reviewed the law and order situation.

As per the decision, the administration ordered for lifting of night curfew in four towns.

In another development, AICC’s Orissa in-charge and Union Minister of State for Urban Development Ajay Maken reiterated his party’s demand for a CBI probe into the killing of the VHP leader and communal violence that followed.

Mr. Maken criticised the Naveen Patnaik government for not handing over the cases to the CBI for a fair probe.

“If Mr. Patnaik genuinely wanted the guilty to be punished, why is he developing cold feet,” he queried.

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