Six Injured in Orissa Religious Clash

Tension gripped Raikia town, after a mob attacked a catholic church, the police said.
( [email protected] ) Aug 27, 2004 10:57 AM EDT

At least six people were injured in Orissa when two religious groups clashed over a fence in front of a church leading to crowds barging inside the building and smashing some statues inside the prayer hall. Sources say the incident occurred on Thursday at Raikia town in Phulbani district.

According to local authorities, the trouble started when some people moved the fencing in front of the church to plant a tree. Sources say some Christians protested against the removal of a fencing eventually leading into a heated argument between Hindu and Christian groups over the matter. During the argument, a large mob reportedly rushed to the church, breaking its windows and causing great amounts of damage.

Bhabani Shankar Patnaik, the sub-divisional officer at Baliguda, told Press Trust of India that at least 300 people broke into the church premises and smashed a number of statues of Virgin Mary and angels besides doors and glass panes.

They also smashed a number of statues installed inside the prayer hall and burnt a truck parked outside the church.

The mob brought several things, including pictures and clothes, from inside the church and set them on fire, one church leader said, adding that a number of tube lights were broken by the mob.

To avoid further trouble, one platoon of armed police was deployed in the church while the district collector Binjay Kumar Dhal and superintendent of police Yatindra Koel had rushed to Raikia to monitor the situation.

Eventually, three platoons of armed police were deployed to avoid further trouble.

Although sources say there is considerable tension in Raikia, local authorities say the situation was tense but under control.

Six people were reportedly injured during the outbreak.