Dalits for Rout's arrest
Bhubaneswar, Sept. 30: The ongoing tussle between the ruling Biju
Janata Dal's Jagatsinghpur MLA Bishnu Charan Das and agriculture
minister Damodar Rout today took a new turn with Dalit organisations
staging a rally in the capital demanding Rout's "immediate arrest" for
his alleged anti-Dalit remarks.
Both leaders hail from Jagatsinghpur district.
Several Dalit groups — the National Conference of Dalit Organization
(NCDO), Odisha Dalit Sangharsa Samittee, Kandhamal Sampradika Hinsa
Prapidita Sangathana and Odisha Ambedkar Mission — participated in the
rally. Later, a delegation called on governor M.C. Bhandare and
submitted a memorandum urging him to initiate action against Rout. "It
(the rally) was a ploy to put pressure on Naveen Patnaik to sack
Rout," said a BJD leader.
The allegation against Rout is that he had — during a public meeting
at a public meeting in Kujang of Jagatsinghpur district on August 18 —
taken the name of the caste of the Dalit MP, MLA and local additional
district magistrate of Jagatsinghpur district while saying that the
Dalit officials had been conspiring against him. Subsequently, a
complaint was lodged against Rout at Kujang police station on charges
of violating rules under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes
(Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.
Jagatsinghpur MP Bibhu Prasad Tarai of the CPI, a supporter of the
Bishnu Das faction, played a major role in organising the rally. "We
plan to meet the chief minister over this issue," he said. Both Das
and Tarai had demanded action against Rout during a meet of the
Scheduled Castes Welfare Advisory Board on September 21.
On Thursday, a group of people had staged a demonstration when Rout
had gone to Jagatsinghpur to attend an official meet at the district
collectorate. The police had to escort Rout to the venue. Das and Rout
are at loggerheads in district politics and supporters of Das believe
that if Rout were dropped from the ministry, Das would then make it to
the council of ministers.
An organiser of today's rally and spokesperson for the NCDO Rajani
Tilak said: "We will organise a meet in Delhi to urge the Centre to
put pressure on the state government to initiate action against Rout
for humiliating the Dalits. Rout should not go scot-free."
The Dalit leader also contended that despite constitutional
provisions, the state government was not implementing 38 per cent
reservation policy in educational institutions for Dalits. He also
alleged that SC and ST MLAs were not getting proper representation in
the council of ministers.
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