Two years after riots marred Yuletide spirits in Kandhamal, people in the district left their sombre memories behind and took part in midnight masses and sung carols to usher in Christmas.

“We are happy that the people joined hands to celebrate Christmas in Kandhamal. There was absolutely no report of any untoward incident,” District Collector Krishna Kumar said.

Father Mathews, a priest in a Catholic church at Phulbani said “Christians attended midnight mass last night without fear.”

Kandhamal Superintendent of Police Praveen Kumar said, 34 platoons of the Orissa Special Strike Force, IRB, Orissa Special Armed Police, Special Police Officers and police were deployed.

One platoon comprises 30 personnel.

There were special security arrangements at sensitive places including G Udaygiri, Tikabali, Raikia, Baliguda, Daringbadi and Kotgarh, a senior police official said.

Trouble had broken out on December 24, 2007 after an attack on VHP leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati. Riots followed his killing on August 23 last year that claimed at least 38 lives and led to damage of a large number of churches and prayer halls.

Keywords: OrissaKandhamalChristmas