Odisha for higher compensation to Kandhamal riot victims

Bhubaneswar: The Odisha government on Thursday proposed enhanced compensation to victims of 2008 Kandhamal riots. Presenting its case before the Supreme Court, the State government submitted a proposal for a 10% hike in Central compensation and 15% increase in compensation given by the State.

The proposal came in the wake of the demand made by Kui Cultural Council, an influential tribal body of the district, to hike the compensation package.

The tribal body had appealed the apex court that since they have been deprived of the compensation of Rs 24 crore announced by both Centre and the State for the riot affected families, they will get benefit if the compensation package is hiked by another 25 per cent cumulatively.

Notably, of the Rs 24 crore, Odisha government had shared Rs 16 crore while Centre’s share was Rs 8 crore.
Hearing the case, Chief Justice TS Thakur asked the tribal body to submit a written complaint before it for consideration of their point in the matter.

In December 2015, Justice AS Naidu Commission of Inquiry set up by the Odisha government to probe the 2008 Kandhamal riots, presented its final report to the State government.

The Commission of Inquiry was instituted on September 8, 2008 after communal riots broke out in Kandhamal district and other parts of the State following the murder of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Swami Lakshmanananda Saraswati and four of his associates at his Jalespeta Ashram on August 23.

The State government had appointed Justice Sarat Chandra Mohapatra to conduct the inquiry. After the demise of Justice Mohapatra, Justice AS Naidu was appointed by the government to head the one-man probe panel in 2012.

The Commission is probing the sequence of events and circumstances leading to the murder of Saraswati. It is also probing the role of individuals in precipitating the murder and the subsequent riots and also the role of organisations, groups and agencies precipitating the communal violence and measures taken by the State government in anticipation of the riots.

Saraswati and four of his aides were killed at his ashram at Jaleshpata in Kandhamal district on August 23, 2008. The killing had triggered communal violence in Kandhamal and adjoining areas in which at least 38 people were killed.

After the VHP leader was shot dead by Maoists on August 23 evening, riots broke out in different parts of Kandhamal during Saraswati’s funeral procession from Jalespata ashram to Chakapada ashram located at the other end of the district on August 25. The Sangh Parivar alleged that members of the Christian community were behind the murder of Saraswati.