`Mobile phone, conversion flared up Kandhamal riots`
Bhubaneswar: Mobile phones played a big role in flaring up communal riots in Orissa`s Kandhamal district a year ago while religious conversion was one of the major reasons of disharmony among the people living peacefully for generations, senior government officials have said.
"I will like to blame use of new technology like mobile phones for flaring up the riots in Kandhamal", Orissa`s Director General of Police, Manmohan Praharaj, said while speaking at a national seminar on the "Role of Police in promotion of communal harmony and national integration" here yesterday.
Admitting that the state police faced a lot of difficulty in tackling the communal situation in Kandhamal that broke out in the aftermath of the killing of VHP leader Laxmanananda Saraswati, the DGP said mischief mongers had easy access to mobile phones to engineer and organise riots across the communally sensitive district.
"While controlling riots earlier was comparatively easy for police, it had become difficult now because of the advent of new technology", Praharaj said adding that security personnel had to act in an impartial manner in order to bring back normalcy in the affected areas.
Madhusudan Padhi, Special Administrator for Kandhamal, however, said that religious conversion was a major factor behind the disturbances.
"When we talk of communal harmony, one must see the reasons behind disharmony", Padhi pointed out adding that the nature of communal violence varied from place to place.
The reasons behind riots in Gujarat a few years ago were totally different from that in Kandhamal. "Therefore, one must try to go to the roots in order to solve the problem", he said.
Besides conversion, alleged issue of fake certificate and disputes over land between tribals and scheduled castes contributed to the clash that claimed over 40 lives following the killing of the VHP leader on August 23 last year, Padhi said.
Officers deployed in the hill-locked Kandhamal district were invited to speak at the seminar.
Praveen Kumar, Kandhamal`s Superintendent of Police, who handled the situation from the beginning stressed on intelligence gathering as a major tool to control riots.
"Dedicated police officers need to be deployed to tackle such situations", Kumar said.
Kandhamal district magistrate Krishan Kumar stressed on multi-department approach to tackle a riot situation.
Though police had a major role in combating riots, other departments like health, education and revenue needed to work in tandem to bring peace to the affected areas, he felt.
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