Poll helpline opened for Orissa riots’ victims


Bhubaneswar : Authorities in Orissa’s Kandhamal district have set up a helpline for providing assistance to riot victims to vote in the upcoming Lok Sabha and state assembly polls, an official said Friday.

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“We have set up a helpline with a toll free number 18003456768 today (Friday). Any riot victims can call on this number between 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. for poll related assistance,” District Collector Krishan Kumar told IANS.

“Voters who have lost their voter identity card during the riots can give a call to this number and get their new card,” he said, adding the voters who are afraid or staying outside can also register themselves with the helpline.

“A day before the poll, they can reach their respective block headquarter in the district and we will provide them transportation and security. We will take them to the polling centre,” he said.

The Kandhamal district, about 200 km from here, witnessed widespread communal violence after the murder of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati and four of his aides at his ashram Aug 23, 2008.

At least 38 people were killed in the state and more than 25,000 Christians were forced to flee their homes after their houses were attacked by rampaging mobs. At least 3,170 people are still living in government relief camps.

Kumar said there was no fresh communal violence in the region since October last year. “Most of the people who have gone back home are living peacefully,” he said.

Orissa goes to elections April 16 and 23 to elect 147 members to the state assembly and 21 members to the Lok Sabha. Polling in Kandhamal district will take place in the first phase.