• Two hundred families still to return homes, says Kandhamal official

    Dibin Samuel

    A top official in Kandhamal has conceded just what church leaders have been clamoring since long. There are still hundreds to return to their villages in the riot-hit district, two years after the violence.

    The district collector of Kandhamal, Krishna Kumar, yesterday told reporters that there were still 200 families to return to their homes that were ravaged by unprecedented violence in the state in 2008.

    His acknowledgement followed a high level meeting chaired by Chief Minister of Orissa Naveen Patnaik, to review the relief measures of the riot victims.

    The Archbishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar, Raphael Cheenath, recently expressed his grief over the lack of security for the victims which discouraged them to return to their homes. A public tribunal on Kandhamal also concurred that most of the victims continue to be intimidated and systematically denied protection and access to justice.

    The district administration, however, disagrees on lack of adequate security measures and appeals to people to return without fear.

    Last month, the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) Vice Chairman Dr. HT Sangliana visited the district after complaints that a large number of people continue to be intimidated and harassed.

    He later told reporters that many still lived in “temporary shelter camps as their houses were not built for lack of money.”

    Sangliana said he would recommend to the Centre and State government to increase the amount of compensation to help people rebuild their homes.

    According to district officials, about 4200 houses of the 4818 houses destroyed were already constructed under the special package announced by the government.

    In addition to that, about 230 churches have been reportedly provided with compensation.

    The violence in 2008 killed at least 40 people and displaced over 50,000 Christians.

    Christian Today India
    October 19, 2010

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