Kandhamal situation peaceful, over 900 arrested so far

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Bhubaneswar, Oct 5 (UNI) The overall situation in the strife-torn Kandhamal was peaceful with no untoward incidents reported from the district during the last two days, Orissa Home Secretary Tarun Kanti Mishra today said.

The government, however, requested the Centre to allow 53 companies of para-military forces to be deployed in the district till December.

''We want a long-term deployment of the central forces at least for a period of three months and not on a temporary basis,'' Mr Mishra said.

Talking to newspersons here, the Home Secretary said 54 more people were arrested during the last two days from the district taking the total arrest figure to over 900.

He said the authorities had directed the gun license holders to surrender their arms and ammunition as it would lessen the violence in the district.

Mr Mishra said several check posts had been erected and both the central and the state forces were conducting flag marches to instil confidence among the people.

He said night curfew would continue in the sensitive police station limits for some more days.

He said the authorities were finding it difficult to approach all the villagers as the district has altogether 2500 villages besides several hamlets. He said since the CRPF was deployed in the Kandhmal sent from various splinter groups, the authorities were facing problem in coordinating all the groups.

Mr Mishra said the Centre, instead of sending splinter groups of CRPF from various locations, should have provided a complete battalion for a proper coordination under one command.

The Home Secretary said the number of people staying in the relief camps had been reduced to a great extent over the last few days with over 10,000 having already left for their homes.

The government, he said, was contemplating to relocate the relief camps close to the houses of the victims so that they could also visit their houses from the relief camp.

On the investigation into the assassination of VHP leader Swami Laxmananda Saraswati, Mr Mishra said a special team constituted for the purpose under the supervision of the IG Crime Branch, has interrogated several people and collecting more information about the incident.

On the disclosure of the Maoist leader Sabyasachi Panda to some private TV channel that they had executed the crime, the Home Secretary said the guilty would be punished.

He claimed satisfactory progress in the investigation but refused to divulge anything at this stage stating that it would hamper in the investigation process.

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