Kandhamal still tense: Pawar

November 19th, 2008 - 7:04 pm ICT by IANS  

Bhubaneswar, Nov 19 (IANS) The situation in Orissa’s violence-wracked Kandhamal district still remains tense, union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar said here Wednesday after leading a central ministerial team to the region that saw communal clashes in August and September.”The situation is tense and a sort of feeling of fear is there,” he told mediapersons after discussions with Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and senior state government officials.

In particular, the situation is worrisome in Tikabali, G. Udayagiri and Raikia block, he said, assuring the state that the central government will provide all necessary help to restore normalcy to the region.

“Patnaik also admitted that the situation is not as calm as should be in the three affected areas,” he said.

The central team, according to a senior state official, has given a six-point proposal to the state government to bring normalcy in the region.

“Any agitation which will create fear in the minority should be avoided,” the team told the chief minister in the proposal, according to an official who requested anonymity.

It also objected to the Hindu groups’ call for statewide shutdown on Christmas Day this year.

The three-member central delegation, which also included Tribal Affairs Minister P.R. Kyndiah and Social Justice Minister Meira Kumar, Tuesday visited a relief camp at Raikia, met victims and reviewed the situation in Kandhamal district.

The central ministers also travelled to the Jalesh Pata ashram where Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Swami Laxmanananda and four of his aides were killed Aug 23, sparking violence that lasted for weeks.

While police blamed Maoists for the crime, many Hindu groups alleged Christians were behind the killings and launched attacks on the community. Christian groups have repeatedly said they had nothing to do with the Hindu leader’s murder.

The violence left at least 38 people dead and thousands of Christian had to flee to the jungles to escape rampaging mobs.

While some have returned to their homes, more than 10,000 are still living in government-run relief camps in the district.

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