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EU team meets Kandhamal riot victims

Twenty-five months after communal violence tore through Kandhamal, the healing has begun but the road to recovery will be long.

india Updated: Feb 04, 2010 23:45 IST
HT Correspondent

Twenty-five months after communal violence tore through Kandhamal, the healing has begun but the road to recovery will be long.

As an 11-member European Union delegation met some of the victims on Thursday, they were told of the steps take by the government to rehabilitate them and what they expected.

Home to 57 families, Nandagiri, 55 km from the district headquarter of Phulbani, is village of polythene tents. The residents used to live in nearby villages, but didn’t want to go back. Their houses are being built.

“The houses are being constructed with the compensation received from the state and Union governments. Most of the villagers have got their records of right,” Sister Soma of Believers’ Church of G. Udayagiri told the team.

A sum of Rs 50,000 was paid for a damaged house and Rs 20,000 for partial damage.

The team is ostensibly out to assess rehabilitation work and steps taken to ensure security of the minorities. Anti-Christian riots had broken out in the district in August 2008, claiming 38 lives, after the killing of a Hindu leader.

Sarishtri Naik, 37, from nearby Kumingia village, returned to her village after the camps were closed in September 2009.

She lives with non-Christian neighbours, but it doesn’t feel the same. “There is peace. But camaraderie is missing,” she said.

Pramila Naik, 35, requested the team for electricity, school and church.

At nearby Hatpada camp, 12 families complained of not getting enough compensation for their houses. More than 40 families that were staying in the camp had gone back, said Debesh Biswal, Tehsildar, G. Udaygiri. “All have got compensation,” he said.

Accompanied by members of administration, the EU members refused comment. “It is very difficult to say anything by spending few minutes with them. So I don’t want to comment,” said Andrew, who only gave his first name.

“The people say the state government has done enough for them and we believe them,” said a member, who didn’t want to be identified.