Naveen terms Kandhmal violence as SC-ST clash

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New Delhi, Oct 13 (UNI) Claiming that his Government had an excellent track record of maintaining communal harmony in Orissa, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today described the recent communal clashes in Kandhamal as a ''manifestation of discord'' between the Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled Castes of the district.

There were only two incidents of communal violence in the state since 2000, referring to the Kandhamal incidents, Mr Patnaik said, speaking at the National Integration Council (NIC) meeting here.

These clashes were mainly ''on account of conflict of interest in the matter of land rights, employment opportunities and religion'', he said, in an apparent bid to give a clean chit to the Bajrang Dal activists, who allegedly were behind the attacks.

Claiming that the situation in Kandhamal has been brought under control, he said the State government had announced a ''gamut of measures initiated to facilitate harmonious and speedier socio-economic development of different communities living in the district''.

He said a Special Administrator of the rank of a Commissioner has been appointed in the district to oversee the development of the area. He has been given powers to settle long-standing issues over land rights, the Chief Minister said.

In the face of allegations of inaction, Mr Patnaik said that his Government was committed to provide a sense of security among the minorities and other deprived groups. ''It has not only implemented several preventive measures on the communal front but also taken prompt steps to ensure that communal tensions and atrocities against the SCs, STs and women are promptly looked into, cases registered and culprits brought to justice,'' he said.

Special steps are being taken to facilitiate minority institutions to pursue their religious, cultural and socio-economic activities in an atmosphere of peace, he stressed.

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