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Priest dies, Orissa violence toll 38

October 29, 2008 19:44 IST

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A Catholic priest, who sustained head injuries during the recent violence in Orissa's Kandhamal district, died at a hospital in Chennai, church sources said in Bhubaneswar on Wednesday.

Forty yeight-year-old Bernard Digal, a resident of Raikia in Kandhamal district, died at St Thomas Hospital on Tuesday night in Chennai where he underwent a surgery to remove a blood clot from the brain.

"Digal was in coma before he passed away at about 9:25 pm on Tuesday night," Father Joseph Kalathil, vicar general of Bishop House in Bhubaneswar, said.

With Digal's death, the total number of people dead in the riots in Kandhamal rose to 38.

Digal was allegedly attacked by a mob on the night of August 25, when a nun was raped and a priest accompanying her was beaten up.

Next morning, Digal was found lying naked in a forest near Tiangia village and was first rushed to a government hospital at Tikabali and later shifted to a hospital in Bhubaneswar.

According to Kalathil, he was taken to Mumbai from where he was sent to St Thomas Hospital in Chennai.

The body will arrive in Bhubaneswar on Thursday, Kalathil said.adding that they were unsure if Digal's wish of being buried at his native place could be fulfilled.

Digal became a priest in 1992.

He became the third religious leader to die in Kandhamal in the last two months after VHP leader Swami Laxamanananda Saraswati and his followers were killed on August 23, sparking largescale violence in the district.

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