Orissa may want central forces to extend Kandhamal stay

December 27th, 2008 - 2:33 pm ICT by IANS  

Bhubaneswar, Dec 27 (IANS) Orissa may seek an extension of the deployment of central forces in the communally sensitive Kandhamal district as authorities feel there are still undercurrents of tension prevailing in some remote areas. “We need the presence of central forces for some more time as complete normalcy is yet to be restored in interior pockets,” a police officer in Kandhamal told IANS Saturday on condition of anonymity.

“The decision will be taken at the top level of the state administration after reviewing the situation in the district,” he said.

The Supreme Court had ordered the deployment of central forces in Kandhamal till Dec 31 ever since communal riots broke out in the region August-September.

“We will take a decision on the matter after reviewing the situation and holding discussions with the central government,” Orissa Home Secretary Aditya Prasad Padhi told reporters Friday evening.

Official sources said that the Kandhamal district administration is not in favour of central forces being withdrawn soon.

“There are around 8,000 people still living in relief camps. The central forces should stay till all these people regain confidence to return to their villages,” a district official said.

But Additional Director General of Police Desaraj Meena said: “The central forces should be withdrawn in a phased manner in order to allow people to live in peace and without any fear.”

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

At least 38 people were killed in the state and thousands of people forced to flee their homes after their houses were attacked by mobs. Extremist Hindu groups blamed Christians for the murders, though Christian groups have denied this repeatedly.

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