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A fast track court in Orissa on Saturday acquitted 17 people in a case of rioting in Kandhamal in 2008.

All the 17 were accused of torching houses in Shashipadar village Aug 26, 2008.

“All the seventeen accused have been acquitted as the charges leveled against them could not be proved for want of evidence,” public prosecutor PK Patra said.

Kandhamal district, about 200 km from here, witnessed widespread violence after the murder of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati and four of his aides at his ashram Aug 23, 2008.

More than 25,000 Christians were forced to flee their homes after their houses were attacked by rampaging mobs that held Christians responsible for Saraswati’s killing, although the police blamed the Maoists.

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