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Protest ahead of EU team’s Kandhamal visit, 5 arrested
Published on 4 Feb. 2010 12:45 AM IST
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Hundreds of Bajrang Dal activists staged protests in state capital Bhubaneswhar against a European Union (EU) delegation, which will visit Orissa’s Kandhamal district on Thursday to interact with riot victims. Five of the protesters have been held, police said Wednesday. The Bajrang Dal workers were detained on Tuesday evening from the airport here, deputy commissioner of police H K Lal told IANS. Hundreds of Bajrang Dal activists shouted slogans holding placards in their hands with slogans like “EU team go back” shortly after the 11-member delegation landed in Bhubaneshwar. The team was whisked away from the airport amidst tight security while the protesters were detained. “It is a secretive visit of the EU delegation. It will flare up the situation in the district which has turned normal. We have asked the government to deny them permission to visit Kandhamal,” said senior Bajrang Dal leader Subash Chauhan. However, a Christian leader said the visit would only help improve the situation and image of the state. “The European Union has always stood for secularism. It has nothing to do with any religious affiliation,” Swarupananda Patra, president of Orissa Minority Forum told IANS. “The visit would help in improving the situation there. Though the government has taken every step to improve the situation, the delegation would help in rehabilitation work,” he said. The EU delegation is scheduled to meet senior state officials in Bhubaneswar on Wednesday before heading to Kandhamal, about 200 km from the state capital. “The European Union diplomatic team is visiting the district tomorrow (Thursday). They will have a meeting with me in the morning and they will go to different locations of the district thereafter. The team will go on its own and we will only provide security,” Krishan Kumar, district collector of Kandhamal said. “The details of the visit programme are still to be worked out by the government,” Kumar added. The delegation - headed by Christophe Manet, Counsellor (head of political affairs) European Commission delegation to India - met state police chief M.M. Praharaj at Cuttack, some 56 km from Bhubaneswar. The team comprises members from Spain, Hungary, Poland, Ireland, Finland, Sweden and Britain. It is also expected to meet other senior officials of the state government. , people of various social groups, the press and religious leaders.

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