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Kandhamal trouble not due to conversion, says government
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January 05, 2008 19:20 IST

With a fragile peace holding since Friday in Orissa's riot-torn Kandhamal district, victims of the violence and arson, the Orissa government on Saturday said the trouble was not due to religious conversion.

"A comprehensive package for the violence-hit people would be announced by chief minister Naveen Patnaik very soon," chief secretary Ajit Tripathy said.

According to the latest assessment, 800 houses were damaged in the violence since December 24 with 580 families, including 336 below the poverty line, affected, he said.

Relief operations were on in full swing with food assistance cards distributed to about 2,000 people, he said. In view of the severe cold, over 4,000 blankets and 3,000 polythene sheets had been distributed, he said.

People, who had taken shelter in forests fearing attacks, have started returning home, Tripathy said. The number of people arrested in connection with the riots has gone up to 119, home secretary T K Mishra said.

Claiming that the riots in Kandhamal were not triggered by religious conversion, Mishra said the state government was keeping a close watch to prevent any further trouble.

Kandhamal district collector Manish Verma said that a five-member peace committee headed by a teacher was being formed in each of the 153 gram panchayats in the district for maintaining harmony.

Compensation was disbursed to the affected for the second day today while an additional superintendent of police was posted in the district to deal with law and order, he added.

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