Patil on daylong visit in Orissa

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Bhubaneswar, Jan 2 (UNI) Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil arrived here today on a daylong visit to assess the situation in Kandhamal district, which was rocked by communal clash recently.

The Union Minister is scheduled to return to New Delhi this afternoon. Chief Minmister Naveen Patnaik accompanied him.

Earlier, Mr Patil went to the Raj Bhawan straight from the Airport and reviewed the situation in Kandhamal with top police officials and bureaucrats.

He also discussed the issue with Opposition leaders before leaving for Kandhamal.

Director General of Police G C Nanda, Chief Secretary Ajit Tripathy, Home Secretary T K Mishra and other officials briefed Mr Patil about the situation.

The Chief Minister called on him at the Raj Bhawan.

Later, Orissa Pradesh Congress president Jayadev Jena, leader of Opposition J B Patnaik, CPI-M General Secretary Janardan Pati, CPI assistant Secretary Ashis Kanungo, NCP leader Bijay Mohapatra and JMM leader Arun Jena apprised him of the prevailing situation in Kandhamal.

After the meeting, Mr Bijay Mohapatra told newspersons that Mr J B Patnaik, Union Minister of state for Rural Development Chandra Sekhar Sahoo and Mr Jayadev Jena accompanied Mr Patil to Kandhamal.

He said the Opposition parties had told Mr Patil that the government did not take any action in the beginning and let the situation to escalate.

He further added, the opposition parties did not believe in the judicial inquiry ordered by the State government and demanded a CBI probe.

The Opposition urged the Home Minister to initiate discussion with all community leaders and leaders of various political parties and restore peace at the earliest.

They also demanded adequate compensation to those affected.

A communal clash erupted between Christians and tribal Hindus at the Brahamanigaon village of the district on December 24 over the erection of a welcome gate on a disputed land by the former to celebrate Christmas.

Three people were killed in the clash and many houses and places of worship damaged.

The government deployed 51 platoons of police, arrested more than 50 people and ordered a judicial inquiry into the incident.

UNI BD PL KLC DS KN1514

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