Kandhamal situation very peaceful: NCM

Bhubaneswar: The National Commission for Minorities (NCM) Thursday said the situation in the communally sensitive Kandhamal district in Orissa is "very peaceful" and rejected allegations that some of the 2008 riot victims are still taking shelter in forests out of fear.

"I think nobody is staying in forest as alleged by some," NCM vice chairman H T Sangliana told reporters after a two-day tour of Kandhamal, which witnessed large-scale violence in the aftermath of the killing of VHP leader Laxamananda Saraswati on August 23, 2008.

However, he said, "Some people are still living in temporary shelter camps as their houses are not built for lack of money."

"I will recommend to both the Centre and the state government to increase the amount of compensation in order to help the people re-build their houses damaged during riot," Sangliana said.

Though the state government had taken some steps, it needed to do more to help the riot-hit people. While the houses built with government assistance are not strong, those constructed with the help of NGOs are better, he said.

Describing the violence in Kandhamal as a combination of both ethnic and communal causes, he said the district administration should ensure that no culprit goes scot free due to lacuna in probe.

The problems in Kandhamal can easily be minimised if the government creates educational and employment opportunities for the people, he said.

To a question, the NCM vice chairman said both conversion and re-conversion should come under the purview of the law.