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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
08KOLKATA285 2008-10-01 09:37:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Consulate Kolkata
Cable title:  

KANDHAMAL CONTINUES TO SMOLDER; CHANGING TREND IN VIOLENCE

Tags:   PGOV PHUM IN 
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VZCZCXRO5865
PP RUEHAST RUEHBI RUEHLH RUEHPW
DE RUEHCI #0285/01 2750937
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P R 010937Z OCT 08
FM AMCONSUL KOLKATA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2157
INFO RHEHAAA/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHHJJPI/PACOM IDHS HONOLULU HI
RUCNCLS/ALL SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA COLLECTIVE
RUEHCI/AMCONSUL KOLKATA 2636
					  UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KOLKATA 000285 

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR DRL (MORALES)

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM IN
SUBJECT: KANDHAMAL CONTINUES TO SMOLDER; CHANGING TREND IN VIOLENCE
OBSERVED

REF: A. NEW DELHI 2498

B. KOLKATA 252

C. KOLKATA 247

D. KOLKATA 002

KOLKATA 00000285 001.2 OF 002




1. (SBU) Summary: Stringent measures employed by government
forces in Kandhamal District in Orissa to quell the recent
communal violence have created a backlash, with attacks now
focused on the police. In Meghalaya on September 29, former
Deputy Prime Minister and BJP leader L.K. Advani for the first
time condemned the violence against Christians and made
assurances to local religious leaders. While sporadic attacks
are still occurring against Christians in relief camps and
elsewhere in Kandhamal, we see indications that the Maoist
Naxalites are taking advantage of the chaotic situation by
organizing Kandh tribals and police victims in protests against
the government. End Summary.

Kandhamal Violence Continues



2. (U) Five weeks after gunmen in Kandhamal district, Orissa,
killed Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati and four of his associates,
scattered incidents of violence continue. Due to pressure from
the central government to restore law and order, police over the
past month have arrested more than 200 Kandh tribals for
involvement in the violence in Kandhamal. On September 16, the
Orissa government decided to further strengthen security around
police stations after a mob of approximately 500 tribals killed
a constable and set fire to the Gochhapada police station. On
September 13, two people were killed in the area of Tumudibandh,
Kandhamal, after security personnel opened fire on a mob after
they were fired upon for trying to disperse them.



3. (SBU) Tribal anger at the arrests also spilled over on
September 23, when about 500 mostly female demonstrators came to
the Raikia police station in Kandhamal and demanded the release
of two tribals who had been arrested on charges of rioting. The
crowd demanded that the government lift the curfew and
prohibitory orders under Section 144 and immediately arrest the
killers of Saraswati. The mob turned violent and attacked the
police station and security personnel. The media reports that
police initially tried to disperse the crowd using mild force
and baton-charges, but when this was unsuccessful, the police
fired on the crowd injuring two persons, killing one.
Thirty-two others, including security personnel, were injured by
the mob.



4. (SBU) On September 26, Poloff spoke with Orissa Deputy
Secretary (Home), Mr. K.C. Sarangi, who claimed that 39
companies (each comprised of approximately 100 policemen) of the
Central Reserve Police Forces are operational in Orissa. Of
those, 26 companies are currently deployed in Kandhamal.
Sarangi also confirmed that three companies of the Rapid Action
Force are deployed in Kandhamal.



5. (SBU) According to press reports, on September 28 home-made
bombs were thrown into Christian relief camps without any loss
of life. Police officials claimed that the attacks were
intended to create fear and panic. However, on September 30
Poloff spoke to a correspondent covering the violence in
Rudayngi, Orissa, who claimed that the bombs were actually
firecrackers which were thrown near the peripheries of the camps
in an effort to scare the inhabitants.

BJP Leader Advani Condemns Violence



6. (U) The press reported that while addressing a September 28
rally in the Christian-dominated state of Meghalaya, BJP prime
ministerial candidate L.K. Advani condemned for the first time
the recent attacks against Christians in Orissa. Advani also
assured the Archbishop of Shillong, Dominic Jala, that he would
ask BJP-led states to ensure a cessation of religious attacks.

Communal Violence with a Twist



7. (SBU) To illustrate the complex motives of religion, caste,
ethnicity, property ownership and language that have combined to
spur communal violence in Orissa, there have also been reports
that members of the Pana caste, irrespective of their religion,
were attacked by Kandhs during the latest wave of violence. The
Panas' desire to convert to Christianity while retaining their
caste identity for government set-asides bred resentment among
the Kandhs and was used as one of the excuses for the latest
violence (Refs A, D). However, Pana Hindus, who make up a
significant portion of the population in some Pana villages,
have also been attacked. Conversely, Christian tribal Kandhs
have been left untouched by their fellow Hindu Kandhs.

KOLKATA 00000285 002.2 OF 002



Are the Maoists now Involved?



8. (SBU) Press contacts covering the violence in Orissa have
told Poloff that it appears that Maoist (aka Naxalite)
extremists may be taking advantage of the communal conflict and
government attempts to protect the Christian community to
position themselves as champions of the downtrodden against all
whom they perceive to be oppressors -- mainly, the government
and the police. The same contacts also report that Maoists may
have initiated a pre-recruitment campaign in Kandhamal. Maoists
in western Orissa have strong influence in several tribal areas,
including Kandhamal, which is one of the state's poorest tribal
districts.

Comment



9. (SBU) While the state government struggles to cope
simultaneously with communal violence in western Orissa and
floods in the eastern part, a new, complex trend in violence is
emerging. What was initially projected as a solely religious
conflict between Hindus and Christians is now drawing strength
from differences of caste and tribe, and from economic
resentments about reservations for jobs. Adding to this is a
clear anti-establishment backlash against steps taken by the
police. Given this mix, it does not appear that the violence
will cease in the near future. The chaos will make the
situation ripe for exploitation by the Maoists who prey on the
grievances of the poorest and least educated groups in eastern
India.
PAYNE