Kerala Congress delegation meets PM, Sonia on Orissa violence

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New Delhi, Sep 1 (UNI) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today assured a six-member Congress delegation from Kerala that his government would provide assistance to the victims of violence in Orissa, besides extending all help to the state government to contain violence.

The delegation, led by former Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, called on Dr Singh and explained the seriousness of the situation in Orissa where, they alleged, Christians and Christian institutions were singled out and attacked.

Mr Chandy told mediapersons that he had been in constant touch with the people of Orissa and it was a great concern that the state government had failed to provide protection to minorities.

"I have told the Prime Minister that the steps taken by the state government to contain violence and provide protection to the minorities were inadequate,'' he said.

Besides Mr Chandy, the delegation consisted of former Kerala ministers Pandalam Sudhakaran and Prof K V Thomas, former KPCC President Thennala Balakrishna Pillai and former Union Minister P J Kurian.

The delegation also met Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Home Minister Shivraj Patil and AICC General Secretary Mohsina Kidwai and sought immediate steps to restore normalcy in Orissa.

A statement issued by PMO said that Dr Singh assured the delegation that the Centre had taken very serious notice of the happenings in Orissa and that he had personally spoken to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to ensure communal harmony and bring to book the culprits behind the violent incidents.

Dr Singh told the delegation that the Chief Minister had assured firm action in the matter.

He explained that the Centre could not directly intervene as law and order was a state subject. However, the Centre had been extending all assistance sought by the state government.

Dr Singh said the Centre would provide assistance to the family members of persons who had lost their lives and those victims who had been permanently incapacitated in the incidents in Orissa under a recently finalised Central Scheme for assistance to victims of communal violence.

In addition, a package of assistance to the people who had suffered in the incidents, including those rendered destitute and homeless and support for repair of houses damaged including orphanages, would be provided from the Prime Minister's National Relief Fund.

Mr Chandy said the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee wanted to send a delegation to Orissa, but the Orissa government had advised against it. Therefore, it would send a Congress delegation to Orissa to coincide with the visit of Home Minister Patil.

He said it was a section of the Hindus who were helping the Christians in Orissa by providing the affected people with clothes, food and shelter.

UNI SH PK UCS1937

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