Kandhmal violence tarnishes India's image abroad : Pawar

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Bhubaneswar, Nov 18 (UNI) Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar today said the communal violence in Kandhmal in Orissa has sent a wrong message not only in the entire country but also abroad, tarnishing the image of a secular India very badly.

Addressing the party workers at the NCP office here, Mr Pawar, who led a three-member ministerial team from the Centre to assess the situation in Kandhmal, said all efforts should be made to ensure that peace and harmony is restored in Kandhmal forthwith.

The Union Minister said the incidents in Kandhmal had gone beyond Orissa and India and alleged that some forces were trying to divide the nation to take political mileage out of it.

He, however, maintained that his visit should not be construed as political and said before coming to Orissa he asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as to what he wanted from him.

The Prime Minister, Mr Pawar said, told him to assess the situation in Kandhmal, try to restore peace and harmony in the area and find out to what extent the Centre could help the state in the rehabilitation of the people.

The Union Minister said he visited Jalespata Ashram, where the Swamiji and four of his disciples were killed and also a camp in Baliguda where the Christians had taken shelter for the past three months and listened to their grievances.

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