Sunday, August 24, 2008

Naxals attack Orissa ashram, kill 5 key VHP leaders

New Delhi: In a Naxal attack in the communally sensitive Kandhamal district in Orissa, 30 armed Naxals ambushed the Ban Basi Kalyan ashram for girls when Janmashtami celebrations were taking place on Saturday evening killing six people.

The Naxals threw grenades and opened indiscriminate firing at the ashram.

All the dead were prominent VHP leaders including senior leader and ashram chief, Lashmananda Saraswati, Arupananda, Chinmayananda and Mata Bhaktimayee.

Lashmananda Saraswati had received a letter threatening him on Saturday morning, asking him to stop religious activities at the ashram.

Tension broke out at some places in the tribal-dominated Kandhmal after the attack on the ashram and roads leading to Tumudibandh were sealed, police said adding steps were taken to prevent any communal flare-up in the district.

Kandhamal, which witnessed violence during Christmas in December last year, has long been a communal flash point. In January this year too, violence had erupted after Christian missionaries were attacked by Hindu groups.

The district has been put on high alert and additional police forces, including the CRPF, have been rushed in to keep stock of the situation. Section 144 imposed in entire Kandhamal district.

In a fallout of the Kandhamal incident, a prayer house was burnt in Tentulieadapada area of neighboring Sundargarh district on Sunday.

The whole state of Orissa has been put on high alert.

VHP has called for 12-hour Orissa bandh on Monday to protest the killings.

BJP and VHP members have started their agitation and are blocking trains and roads in various parts of Orissa including Bhubaneshwar.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has appealed the people to maintain peace. He has also promised to take stringent action against those found guilty.

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