06/09/2009, 00.00
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Orissa: tensions in Kandhamal. Christians still targeted by extremists

by Nirmala Carvalho
A Christian woman recognises her husbands assassin after meeting him at the market. The police intervenes and arrests the man, but immediately Hindu fanatics protest in front of the police station for his release.

Bhubaneshwar (AsiaNews) – Tensions and clashes between extremists and police following the arrest of a leader from the Sangh Parivar, guilty of the murder of tribal Christians and officers from the Central Reserve Police Force (Crpf). That is what has taken place in the village of Sirsapanga, Kandhamal district (Orissa).

On June 6th, the widow of a tribal Christian killed in October by Hindu extremists recognised her husbands assassin while she was at the market.  Kalia Pradhan, the murderer, had been in hiding for over 9 months but had recently been seen in public places in the village.

Eye-witnesses report that the woman, as soon as she recognised the man, began screaming: “My husband’s killer is here” greatly agitating the crowds.   Reached by AsiaNews, Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (Gcic) tells that “she went to the police who were  initially reluctant to arrest the man, however, her brother telephoned  the Superintendent of Police, who immediately ordered the local police to arrest him”.

Following the security forces operations, supporters of the Sangh Parivar immediately began protesting outside the Raikia police station demanding the assassins release.  Officers dispersed the crowd of protesters and immediately alerted priests and Christians in the area, for fear of fresh tensions.

Sirsapanga village became the theatre of fresh violence when the government decided to withdraw the Crpf force on May 31st last. Coinciding with the demobilisation of the soldiers, sent to the area to protect Christians, the homes of three Christians were set on fire.

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