He said the Centre should also "promptly" provide armed forces on request from states concerned along with other logistics and developmental support to effectively control communal tension. This assistance should be based on an objective appreciation of ground realities and not be influenced by political considerations, he said.

With social networking sites being blamed for spread of rumours during the communal violence in Muzaffarnagar, Patnaik said, "An oversight mechanism to prevent and control such mediums (the social networking sites) in critical situations is the need of the hour."

"Government should take appropriate initiative in this regard without affecting the general principles of freedom of speech and expression," he said at the meeting of the National Integration Council (NIC) in Delhi. His speech was circulated at the meeting in his absence. The Chief Minister said all efforts should be directed towards curbing the growth of regionalism and parochialism in the country as they are a big challenge to national integration.

"There are a few fissiparous tendencies in the country fuelling divisive forces. Among these, most prominent are the religious divide, regional divide, ethnic divide and the socio-economic divide," he said. Noting that the NIC meeting has been convened at a time when the country has been affected by serious communal incidents, Patnaik said it was a matter of concern that "communalism continues to raise its ugly head periodically, straining the social fabric of the country".

"Let us pledge ourselves to unite for the sake of peace and communal harmony in this forum and seriously debate on how to contain this problem," he said. On the occasion, Patnaik reiterated demand for grant of special category status to Odisha for balanced development and to contain left wing extremism. The Odisha Chief Minister said his state attaches the highest priority to maintenance of communal peace and amity and it has been relatively free from any form of communal discord.

He said the state government has prescribed a manual containing elaborate instructions to prevent and contain communal disturbances. Patnaik said a state level coordination committee on communal harmony has been set up, while peace committees are also in place at the district and block level. He said text books should include lessons which emphasize the contribution made by all religious committees in evolving Indian culture.

Patnaik said his government is committed to promoting policies aimed at building social cohesion and maintaining communal harmony as well as empowerment of women and emancipation of weaker sections. In this respect, he suggested the Finance Ministry to evolve a policy through which every gram panchayat in scheduled area is covered by at least one brick and mortar branch of a scheduled commercial bank.


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