Kandhmal situation still tense - Pawar

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Bhubaneswar, Nov 19 (UNI) Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar today said the situation in Kandhamal was still tense even after three months and asked Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to restore peace and normalcy.

Mr Pawar heading a three-member ministerial team, constituted by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Kandhmal, arrived here on November 17 and visited affected Baliguda, Raikia, Phulbani and Jalaspeta Ashram in Kandhmal district to assess the situation.

The team held two rounds of discussions with the Chief Minister and top officials of the state during the past three days apart from meeting the affected people, police and district administration in Kandhamal.

Mr Pawar told newspersons after meeting with the Chief Minister here that the situation in Kandhamal district was tense but some efforts had been made by the state government to bring normalcy.

He said Kandhamal, Gajapati and Boudh districts have some special problems and hinted about a special package on the lines of KBK for the development of the areas.

On the threat to observe ''Orissa Bandh'' on December 25 by Swami Laxamananda Sarswati Shdradhanjali Samiti if the killers of the Swamiji were not arrested by December 15, the Union Minister said bandh should not be observed on festival days like Diwali, Chhat Puja and Christmas day.

'' I do not understand why December 25 was chosen for the bandh, '' the union Minister remarked.

He said the minority communities were under tremendous pressure after the threat.

'' We have requested the Chief Minister to build confidence among the minority and protect their life and property in such a situation, '' he stated.

The government Mr Pawar said should use its own office and take such steps to prevent any untoward incident.

He also asked the government to gear up its machinery and book the culprits responsible for the assassination of Swami Laxmanandna Sarswati.

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