Some positive and encouraging signals to restore peace in troubled Kandhamal emerged from a tribal conclave in the district on Sunday.
The Kui Samaj Coordination Committee had convened the conclave at Chakapada, 55 km from Phulbani town, to discuss the issues that have torn apart Kandhamal’s social fabric.
The killing of Swami Laxmananda Saraswati on August 23 started the clashes. But the root cause behind the problems lies in the face-off between Kondh tribals, who comprise nearly 52 per cent of the district’s population and the Pana Christians (converted Scheduled Castes), who comprise nearly 17 per cent of the population.
It’s the Kondh-Pana Christian face-off that has stoked the fire till now.
Lambodar Kanhar, secretary general of the Kui Samaj Coordination Committee appealed to tribal representatives to give peace a chance as the livelihoods of many tribals have been endangered because of the communal disturbances.
Kanhar welcomed Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s Kandhamal package in which he spoke of addressing the problem of fake caste certificates on a war footing.
The Kui leader said the problems in Kandhamal cannot be tackled by deploying more security forces and the government has done well to announce a package to address the root causes behind the disturbances.
Tuna Kanhar (22), told HT: “Our leader has given us the right message to restore peace.” Sixty-year-old Janaki said: “We have suffered enough. Peace must be restored as soon as possible.”