Minority panel sends entire team to violence hit Orissa

October 1st, 2008 - 8:10 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Oct 1 (IANS) Stung by unceasing violence against the Christian community in Orissa, the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) announced Wednesday it was sending its entire team to the state to study the situation - a step it did not take even during the 2002 Gujarat communal violence.NCM member Harcharan Singh Josh said the commission normally sent one or two members to troubled states. But Orissa, he said, demanded that the NCM send out “a strong message”.

“The full commission, comprising chairman, vice chairman and five members, will visit Orissa next week to assess the situation,” Josh said.

The team will visit Kandhamal and other violence-torn districts in Orissa before meeting Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and Governor M.C. Bhandare.

Josh said it is the first time NCM was sending its entire team to any state and this did not happen even during the Gujarat violence of 2002.

“After the Godhra riots a three-member NCM team was sent to Gujarat to take stock of the situation. The situation is very critical in Orissa,” Josh said.

“Two teams of NCM had already visited Orissa since the violence started in the state. The situation does not seem to be settling down and attacks on innocent Christians are continuing unabated,” Josh added.

Kandhamal district has been witnessing communal violence since Aug 23, when Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati and four others were shot dead by unidentified gunmen at his Jalespata ashram.

Since then, thousands of people have been rendered homeless, many churches attacked and at least 25 people, mostly Christians, killed in the state.

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