Terming the communal violence in Orissa as “highly unfortunate”, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday said the central government was constantly monitoring the situation in the riot-hit state.
In reply to a letter by Sister Nirmala, head of the Missionaries of Charity, Manmohan Singh said: “Your distress and anguish at the incidents that have taken place in Orissa recently are fully appreciated and understood.
“The central government is deeply concerned at the situation. It is highly unfortunate that so much of violence has taken place. These incidents should never have happened. We have been constantly in touch with the state government.
He added: “I have myself spoken to the chief minister (Naveen Patnaik). The centre has made available all the forces required by the state. The state has also been assured that the centre would be willing to render any other assistance that may be required.”
Communal violence erupted in Orissa after Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and four of his followers were killed by unidentified gunmen at his ashram in Kandhamal district Aug 23.
The police said Maoists were responsible for the killing. But blaming Christians for the murders, thousands of Hindus attacked Christian homes and churches. The communal violence has claimed at least 16 lives.
The prime minister said it has been “emphasised to the state authorities that every possible step must be taken to bring back normalcy, to provide protection to all communities and to bring the culprits to book”.
Singh added: “We are continuing to monitor the situation. I am announcing a package of assistance from the PM's National Relief Fund to the next of kin of those who have been killed and to those injured and those who have been rendered homeless.
“I am separately asking the home minister to advise the state government to provide necessary protection to the houses and workers of the Missionaries of Charity.”