Bhubaneswar, Jan 11: The Orissa government today lifted the ban on visit of political party leaders and others to the strife-torn Kandhmal district rocked by communal clashes between tribals and Hindus recently.
The state government had imposed a ban on the visit of representatives of political parties and other organisations after the district witnessed violence on December 25 following a clash between Tribals and Christians. Opposition party leaders, including former chief ministers J B Pattnaik and Hemananda Biswal, were prevented from entering the area in the past while CPM leader Sitaram Yechury was advised not to visit the area following the ban.
Irked over the state government's decision, leaders of six opposition parties had announced that they would visit the area on January 12 for two days despite the ban as the government had 'miserably failed' to restore peace in Kandhmal even after a fortnight of the violence.
The Chief Secretary,however, said since no major untoward incidents had been reported from Kandhmal after December 27 and the situation was fast returning to normal, politicians and other people could visit the area from today.
He, however, appealed to them to cooperate with the district administration in restoring peace and harmony among the two communities.
Mr.Tripathy said Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today paid a brief visit to Brahmanigaon village in the district and reviewed the law and order situation besides, relief distribution in the camps. He said the district collector had been advised to lift night curfew imposed in some sensitive areas while judging the prevailing situation there.
On the demand from certain sections that the NGOs be allowed to distribute relief in the area, the Chief Secretary said it had been decided that all relief work would be undertaken through the state Red Cross Society and the District Red Corss Society.
Mr.Tripathy said so far 119 cases had been registered in connection with the violence and 145 people arrested. The state government had constituted as many as 90 Peace Committees in the district and by now these had 105 sittings at various places to restore peace and harmony.
The Chief Secretary said the Centre had offered to provide relief to the affected people but the state government had communicated that relief had been provided from the Chief Minister's Relief Fund.