Hitting back at the Centre for alleging improper utilisation of para-military forces in riot-torn Kandhamal district, Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said on Saturday that it took more than a week for additional CRPF forces and a helicopter to reach the affected areas when it was "too late".
"The district was left to fend for itself with available forces from August 23 to 27 when the violence following the killing of Swamiji (Laxmananda Saraswati) was at its peak," Patnaik said.
Though the state had sought additional forces on August 23, he said the first batch arrived in Kandhamal only on August 27.
As the rioters blocked roads by felling trees, the state government asked for a helicopter for transporting personnel on August 24.
"No helicopter was, however, made available to us and it arrived only on August 31. By then, the roads had been cleared," he said in a communication in response to Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil's letter received yesterday.
In a strongly-worded letter, Patil had accused the state government of failing to properly utilise central forces as well as the helicopter.
Rejecting claims that the Centre had fully met the requirements of forces in Orissa, Patnaik said that after the arrival of the additional central forces there was a substantial reduction in violence. "These forces were deployed to guard relief camps, religious institutions and other areas."
The Chief Minister said the CRPF had a standard operating procedure of deploying a company in a particular location.
"This meant that the 40 companies of CRPF available in Kandhamal could be deployed at 40 places at the most whereas the district had hundreds of vulnerable religious institutions and habitations," he said.