Team deplores govt rehab work

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  • Published 17.05.08

Bhubaneswar, May 17: An independent fact-finding team comprising two retired high court judges, which visited the communal strife-torn Kandhamal district, today deplored the delay in rehabilitating the riot victims.

At the end of their five-day visit to the state, the team leader and former judge of Bombay High Court, Justice Kolse Patil said the houses, hospitals, hostels and churches destroyed in the December riot were yet to be rebuilt. Hundreds of riot victims were still staying in relief camps or with relatives.

The district had witnessed communal strife between December 24 and January 2 during which three persons were killed and scores of houses, churches, hostels and hospitals torched.

“It’s quite shocking that the government has not organised relief and rehabilitation properly even five and half months after the communal carnage,” said Teesta Setalvad, human rights activist and one of the team members.

In the worst hit Barakhama area, 220 damaged houses are yet to be built and the district administration has admitted this, she said.

The homeless are suffering due to the glaring heat, said the activist, warning that the situation would worsen if the houses were not built before the onset of monsoon.

Former DGP of Gujarat R.B. Sreekumar observed that the three R’s (reconciliation, rehabilitation and resettlement) have not been followed properly in Kandhamal.

Justice Patil said several victims alleged that police did not accept their FIRs or provide them protection against communal forces. Though there is tremendous potential for building peace in the affected areas, the administration has taken little steps in this regard, said Setalvad.

The government should learn lessons from its failures and take precautionary measures to prevent recurrence of communal violence, she said.

Sreekumar said police should maintain a dossier of miscreants and keep strict vigil on their activities to prevent such occurrences.