MMC panel urges Centre's intervention in Orissa

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Mumbai, Jan 13 (UNI) Maharashtra Minorities Commission Vice Chairman Abraham Mathai today sought intervention of the Central Government in making available aid and relief to the victims of the recent communal violence in Orissa.

Criticising the Naveen Patnaik Government for its alleged failure to take prompt action against the culprits, Mr Mathai said, ''Orissa does not have fora such as a State Minorities Commission which can restore confidence.'' ''A State Minorities Commission, with statutory powers, must be set up immediately in the state,'' he said after receiving the Social Activist of the Year Award, instituted by the local NGO Catholic Secular Forum, here today.

Quoting from an unofficial paper, published by a fact-finding mission team, of which he was a part, Mr Mathai alleged, ''Some 697 properties were destroyed in arson and mob violence by communal elements during the December violence. In addition to this, as many as 126 shops and other properties, 71 churches and 48 village churches and orphanages were also destroyed.'' CSF General Secretary Joseph Dias alleged that this was the first time in the history, since independence, that nearly 3,000 Christian men, women and children have been forced to live in just two refugee camps.

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