12/17/2008, 00.00
INDIA
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Orissa: catechist disappears. Government bans Hindu demonstrations at Christmas

by Nirmala Carvalho
The extremists will respect the ban only if the police arrest those guilty of the murder of Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati. Accusations against Christians continue, while the police have already arrested seven people and continue their investigations.

Bhubaneshwar (AsiaNews) - A catechist has disappeared from the village of Kanjamedi, in the district of Kandhamal (Orissa). Sources for AsiaNews say that this happened "on 16th December around 6:30 PM, as Yuvraj Digal and his son were returning home from Tikabali village, Kandhamal, on his way home, a mob of nearly 50 persons recognised him, stopped him, abused him and mercilessly thrashed him severely. His son managed to escape, but Yuvraj is still not traceable."

Fr. Ajay Singh is director of Jan Vikas Kendra, the charitable and social center of the archdiocese of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar. He explains to AsiaNews that fear is still rooted in Kandhamal. "There is not much change in the condition of the relief camps, winter has set in, making living conditions even more deplorable. There are nearly 11,000 people in relief camps, and while the administrations has indicated that Christmas celebrations may be permitted, the Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati Sradhanjali Samiti (SLSSS) has threatened not to permit the celebration of Christmas."

The SLSSS, an extremist Hindu movement, announced some time ago demonstrations for December 25, in retaliation for the killing of Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati, following which the anti-Christian pogrom was unleashed in August. In spite of the fact that investigators have pointed to Maoist movements as responsible for the killing, his supporters still accuse the Christians, and are threatening protests if the police do not arrest all those responsible. Security forces in the state have so far arrested seven people, whose identities they have not been revealed, while the investigations are ongoing.

To the threats of the Hindu movements, the prime minister of the state of Orissa, Naveen Patnaik, replied on Sunday the 14th announcing that the government will not permit them to demonstrate on Christmas day. Extremist groups like Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Rashtriya Swayamevak Sangh have responded that they will respect the ban imposed by Patnaik only if the police arrest the killers of the Hindu leader.

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