Monday, 30th October 2017

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Dalits for Rout's arrest

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  • Published 1.10.10

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.