Pawar leads team to Orissa's riot-hit Kandhamal | india | Hindustan Times
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Pawar leads team to Orissa's riot-hit Kandhamal

india Updated: Nov 18, 2008 12:19 IST
Pawar leads team to Orissa's riot-hit Kandhamal

A three-member central government team led by Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar on Tuesday reached Orissa's Kandhamal district to take stock of the situation in the region where at least 38 people were killed and thousands rendered homeless in communal violence in recent months.

The delegation, which also includes Tribal Affairs Minister PR Kyndiah and Social Justice Minister Meira Kumar, visited a relief camp at Raikia, a district police official told IANS on phone. They are to visit relief camps in Tikabali and Nuagaon, he said.

The official added that they would also travel to the ashram where Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Swami Laxmanananda and four of his aides were killed, allegedly by Maoists.

The team is to talk to victims, religious leaders, district officials and police officials.

Pawar, Kyndiah and Kumar arrived in Bhubaneswar on Monday, met Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik in the state secretariat and discussed measures taken by the state government in the area.

Kandhamal district, some 200 km from Bhubaneswar, witnessed large-scale communal violence, mostly attacks on Christians and their places of worship, after the Aug 23 killing of Laxmanananda and his aides.

Though Maoist rebels have claimed responsibility for the killings, radical Hindus hold Christians responsible, despite repeated denials by Christian organisations.

At least 38 people lost their lives in the communal violence that ensued and more than 20,000 people were rendered homeless. Around 10,000 people are still living in government-run relief camps.

The three ministers, accompanied by central government officials, are here to review the relief and rehabilitation measures of the state government in the riot-hit areas.