Staff Reporter

Number of affidavits received is less compared to the extent of Kandhamal violence, says the Justice

BERHAMPUR: The tenure of Justice Basudev Panigrahy Commission constituted to investigate into the reasons behind the communal violence that occurred in Kandhamal district in December last is expected to be extended by at least six months.

Speaking to newsmen at Phulbani on Tuesday Justice Panigrahi stated that the tenure of the commission was going to be expire on August 8. But it was going to have an extension of at least another six months. The commission has so far received 470 affidavits. According to him this number was too less in comparison to the scale of violence that had occurred. It may be noted that the commission had also extended the deadline for filing affidavits to July 5.

The commission started its hearing at Phulbani, the district headquarter of Kandhamal district on Tuesday. The hearing was held at the conference hall of the Kandhmal Collectorate in Phulbani, the district headquarter town.

The commission heard five cases on the first day of its hearing. The deponents on the first day included Rt. Rev. Raphel Cheeneth the Arch Bishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar Diocese of Roman Catholics and John Dayal, General Secretary, All India Christian Council. The commission would continue its hearing for four days during this first phase of hearing. The date of next phase of hearing would be intimated later. On Tuesday some delegations also requested the commission to hold its hearing at the villages affected by the communal violence.

It may be noted that communal violence had erupted in several parts of Kandhmal district during the last week of December 2007 which also coincided with Christmas celebrations and a bandh call by a tribal organisation, Kui Samaj.

The ethnic and communal violence resulted in widespread damages to places of worship, houses and public property. Paramilitary forces had to be deployed to restore normalcy. Union home minister Shivraj Patil had also rushed to the district to take note of the situation.