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Security for midnight mass in Kandhamal

December 23, 2008 21:21 IST

With Christians in riot-hit Kandhamal afraid to perform midnight mass in churches located in remote areas on Christmas eve, Orissa government on Tuesday promised adequate security to ensure a peaceful festival this time, official sources said.

"We have made elaborate security arrangements in Kandhamal and elsewhere in the state," Home Secretary Aditya Padhi told reporters after meeting Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.

The government's assurance came after archbishop's house in Bhubaneshwar asked churches in remote, hilly and forest areas in Kandhamal to avoid midnight mass due to fear of attack.

"We advised churches in remote areas in Kandhamal against midnight mass because people will be returning to their houses at around 1 am in the night after the midnight prayer. We feel it is not safe to return home so late," Archbishop Raphael Cheenath had said.

The chief minister while reviewing the arrangement in Kandhamal for Christmas is believed to have told the home department to ensure that no one was denied the right to attend the midnight mass on eve of the festival, sources said.

The government had already identified as many as 30 Roman Catholic and protestant churches in Kandhamal for security cover.

"If some other churches require security, they will be provided with," Padhi said adding that adequate facilities had been made in eight relief camps for conducting midnight mass.

Besides deployment of 42 companies of central paramilitary force, the administration had rushed more rapid action force units to Kandhamal to deal with situation.




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