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Orissa ex-minister blames Naveen for Kandhamal violence

BJP leader and a former state minister, Manmohan Samal on Wednesday claimed that Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had ignored his advice on the volatile situation in Kandhamal which snowballed into large scale violence in 2008.

Updated: Mar 09, 2011, 22:12 PM IST

Bhubaneswar: BJP leader and a former state
minister, Manmohan Samal on Wednesday claimed that Chief Minister
Naveen Patnaik had ignored his advice on the volatile
situation in Kandhamal which snowballed into large scale
violence in 2008.

Samal, who had been Revenue and Disaster Management
Minister in the BJP-BJD coalition government during that time,
stated this while deposing before Justice S C Mohapatra
commission of inquiry probing the Kandhamal violence.
"Had Kandhamal tribal problems been solved in time,
possibly there would not have been any violence in December,
2007," Samal said in his deposition.

Samal, who was a minister in the Patnaik cabinet for
four-and-half-years, said: "I had discussed with the chief
minister about discontentment among tribals after receiving a
memorandum from them in middle of 2008."

When contacted, the chief minister`s office declined
to comment on the claims made by Samal.

Claiming that he had requested the chief minister to
take steps to solve problems of tribals, mostly relating to
land transfer and fake caste certificate issue, Samal alleged
that Patnaik did not take any action to tackle the problems.

"I had told the chief minister that immediate steps
need to be taken as this discontentment could explode any
time," he said.

The discontentment was such that a tribal body, Kui
Coordination Committee, gave a bandh call to be launched on
December 25, 2007 and the first communal violence took place
on that day, Samal pointed out.
"After Kui Coordination Committee give a bandh call, I
met chief minister two to three times and requested him to
take steps in order to solve the problem as there was previous
disputes relating to land between two communities," he said.

"There was no discussion in the cabinet in respect of
the discontentment of the tribals in spite of my serious
suggestion to Patnaik," Samal said adding there was no
discussion about Kandhamal in the Cabinet at any point of time
during his tenure as a cabinet minister.

Claiming that he had visited the district several
times, Samal said the Kandha tribes felt that their land had
been being taken by Pano scheduled castes. "The tribals are
angry with Panos for taking benefits by obtaining fake caste
certificates," Samal told the commission.

At least 38 people were killed and thousands of houses
and churches gutted in the communal violence in 2007 and 2008
in Kandhamal.

PTI