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Tension in Kandhamal
Published on 7 Nov. 2008 1:06 AM IST
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The murder of a Hindu activist by suspected Maoists has renewed tension in Orissa’s volatile Kandhamal district, where communal violence since August has left at least 38 people dead and thousands homeless, officials said on Thursday. Authorities on Thursday issued a prohibitory order that bans the gathering of four or more people and deployed hundreds of policemen in sensitive parts of the district after suspected Maoists on Wednesday killed Dhanu Pradhani, an activist of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). “The prohibitory order is a temporary step and we may lift it after reviewing the situation. We have launched a combing operation in the region to nab the culprits,” District Superintendent of Police S Praveen Kumar said. According to police officials, three people came on a motorcycle and shot Pradhani dead at Kumbharigaon village. They are not sure if Wednesday’s killing has any link to the communal violence that followed the Aug 23 killing of another Hindu leader. “There was no major violence in the district since September 30. The Wednesday murder has, however, renewed tension,” a district administration official said. Pradhani’s brother Ananda alleged that some members of the local Christian community killed him. However, police suspect the hand of Maoists because Pradhani was believed to be on their hit list. The district of Kandhamal, some 200 km from here, witnessed communal violence after the murder of Hindu leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati and four of his aides Aug 23. While the police blamed the Maoists for the crime, the Hindu groups blamed Christians for the murder, despite repeated denials by Christian organisations. Over 23,000 Christians were forced to flee their homes. While some have returned, more than 10,000 are still living in government-run relief camps in the district.

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