PM terms Orissa violence a ‘national shame’

August 29th, 2008 - 1:01 am ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 28 (IANS) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Thursday termed the violence against Christians in Orissa as a “national shame” and assured leaders of the community that compensation would be paid to the affected families.A group of Christian leaders met Manmohan Singh to seek his intervention in the ongoing violence against Christians in the state, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) spokesman Father Babu Joseph said.

He quoted the prime minister as describing the riots in Orissa as “a national shame”.

Christian leaders also said that Manmohan Singh assured them that the families of those who lost their life would be given compensation of Rs.300,000 from the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund.

CBCI along with other Christian organisations announced that 40,000 Christian schools and colleges would remain shut Friday to “protest the violence against their community”.

Meanwhile, Manmohan Singh spoke to Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and asked him to take immediate steps to stop the violence and restore normalcy, a statement from the prime minister’s office said.

“A delegation of Catholic Bishops Conference of India along with Archbishop of Delhi met the prime minister and apprised him of the recent situation in Orissa. The PM mentioned that the central government was in touch with the state government and every effort would be made to restore normalcy in the state,” the statement said.

“The PM later spoke to the chief minister of Orissa and requested him to take immediate steps in this direction. He also advised the chief minister to provide immediate relief to the affected people, particularly children,” it added.

Meanwhile, the Italian government has expressed its concern to the Indian mission in Rome over the violence against Christians in Orissa.

Foreign Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee discussed the issue with Nalin Surie, secretary ministry of external affairs (West).

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