After minor altercation, 40 houses were torched at Lathore village

Around 200 people belonging to the lower caste community at Lathore village under Khaprakhol block of Bolangir district, Odisha are yet to come out of the shock of having their houses torched by miscreants.

Sheltered in a nearby government high school, which was converted into a camp, the villagers could hardly venture out to seek assistance from their relatives, fearing further attacks by their upper caster neighbours.

“The condition of 168 women and children was pathetic. Seven pregnant women were finding the falling night temperature difficult to cope up with. As many as five children below the age of one year were without medical attention,” said Mukesh Suna, a victim.

Traumatised

Mr. Suna said elderly members were traumatised by Sunday's horrific incident in which members of the upper caste community ganged up over a minor altercation and torched about 40 houses belonging to the lower caste families. Subsequently, the victims managed to flee from the houses, leaving their valuables behind.

District administration provided relief material, including blankets and food.

Release demanded

Meanwhile, tension continued to prevail in the area as wives of those who were arrested after the incident blocked the main village road. They demanded immediate and unconditional release of their family members. Members of the upper caste community threatened to intensify their agitation over the incident.

More than three platoons of police have been deployed for protection of fire victims sheltered in the school. Politicians on Tuesday made a beeline for the camp to console the victims.