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Youths migrate for jobs, forcible conversion a 'figment of imagination': Odisha to SC

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An affidavit by the Naveen Patnaik government in the Supreme Court said people migrate from Odisha to southern States like Kerala and Andhra Pradesh in search of employment and not due to fear of conversion.

The State government's denial of the alleged threat of forcible religious conversion came while responding to a pending petition filed by the State's Archbishop Raphael Cheenath seeking judicial intervention on behalf of the Kandhamal riots victims. sver 35 people were killed in the tribal-dominated district of Odisha when Hindu mobs allegedly set fire to Christian settlements at Jalespata Ashram on August 23, 2008.

The petition pleaded that approximately 10,000 victims are still living outside their respective villages in other districts of Odisha and have also migrated to States like Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat, etc, due to threat to their lives, socio-economic boycott and conversion/forcible conversion to Hinduism. The State government denied the allegations as factually untrue.

The migration to other States is mainly due to search for employment, and this is so irrespective of caste, creed or religion, it said. “These youths who have migrated to different States still have their roots intact in their home district. Therefore, the allegation of threat to their lives, socio-economic boycott and fear of conversion to Hinduism/forcible conversion is merely a figment of imagination,” Narayan Chandra Das, Special Secretary to Home Department, said in the affidavit on behalf of the State.

The Supreme Court has already made the point that its primary concern is to ensure that the riot victims get financial relief. The affidavit, filed on January 30, 2015, said an exhaustive survey of houses damaged in the riots was conducted, and out of 246 houses individually verified, 36 were found damaged and compensation have been paid to the families.

It said that the Prime Minister's Office has directly credited financial assistance to the accounts of victims opened in PSU banks via e-transfer. The State further informed that of a total 229 religious institutions damaged, financial assistance has been sanctioned to all, while monetary aid was given to 119 damaged shops-cum-residences, 12 damaged public institutions as per damage assessment.

The affidavit informed that Rs. 5 lakh each was provided as ex-gratia assistance to families of deceased victims, of which Rs. 3 lakh was drawn from the Central Scheme for Assistance to Victims of Terrorist/Communal Violence while the balance Rs. 2 lakh from the Chief Minister's Relief Fund.

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Printable version | Dec 7, 2019 6:11:52 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/youths-migrate-for-jobs-forcible-conversion-a-figment-of-imagination-odisha-to-sc/article6871419.ece

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