EU delegation meets Christian leaders in Orissa

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Bhubaneshwar, Feb 5 (ANI): Visiting eleven-member delegation from the European Union (EU) met Christian leaders in Orissa on Thursday.

The delegation discussed situation in Kandhamal district of the state, which was hit by communal riots.

Kandhamal was rocked by communal violence in mid-2008, sparked off by the murder of a senior Hindu religious leader in the region, resulting in large-scale killings and forcing Christians to flee to safer locations.

The EU delegation arrived in India on Wednesday and met Orissa Government officials, Christian leaders, civil society groups and social activists in Bhubaneshwar.

"(We have asked them to do) strong reporting to the government, their government and also to have some sort of appealing to the central government as well as state government in the light of what they have seen and we said we need more and more support encouragement etc, so that is what we have asked them to do," said Rafel Chinat, archbishop.

A member of EU delegation told reporters that they want to learn the ground situation in Kandhamal.

"That's what we are here for, to learn, and we learnt from different kind of opinion that what is the situation on the ground," said John Dayal, a member of EU.

The delegation would be visiting Kandhamal and would be interacting with riot victims later during their visit.

The delegation comprises members from Spain, Hungary, Poland, Ireland, Finland, Sweden and Britain. The delegation has also met top brass of the state police and discussed the prevailing situation.

The delegation was denied permission to visit the riot-hit district last year.

Around 50 Christian families in Gadguda village of Kandhamal were forced to move, when their houses were destroyed in fires set off by rioters. Many of them migrated to other places, while the elderly and children went to relief camps. (ANI)

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