Bhubaneswar: Drawing a similarity between the Prime Minister and the Odisha chief minister, senior Congress leader and former Union minister Jairam Ramesh today said both of them behave like the Mouni Babas (silent monks) when there is an incident of atrocity on the dalit and tribal communities.
Briefing media persons here after the return of the Congress fact finding team from Gumudumaha village in Kandhamal village where it had gone to collect detailed information about the death of six villagers during an anti-Maoist operation in the night on July 8, he said the Odisha government believes that if the Maoists are to be killed, the tribals have to be killed first.
Asked about the observations the fact finding team during its visit to Gumudumaha village, Ramesh claimed that the death of the six villagers was not due to cross-firing. “Stern action must be taken against the security men who have cold bloodedly murdered these innocent villagers. The team will submit its report to the party high command in a couple of days. Besides, we will raise this grave incident in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha as well,” he informed.
Stating that 18 of the 30 districts of Odisha are Maoist prone, the former Union minister took a swipe at the chief minister saying the latter pays visit to these districts by helicopter in the morning and returns to the state capital in the evening.
“As I have spent several nights in these Maoist prone districts, I know the problems of the people,” he noted.
Coming down heavily on the chief minister for the incident, Ramesh said four such incidents has taken place during the past 12 months – two in Kandhamal and one each in Nuapada and Kalahandi districts – but Patnaik has been maintaining silence.
Asking Patnaik to take concrete steps to prevent recurrence of such incidents involving police, they said a mistake can happen once or twice due to carelessness.
“But it has happened four times in a year, which showed the BJD government’s mindset to work against the interests of the tribals and the dalits”, said Ramesh accusing the Patnaik government of failing to deal with such incidents with sympathy and sensitiveness.
He said the chief minister must own moral responsibility for the killing of the innocent villagers including a 13-month-old child.
Referring to the developmental works in these backward districts, Ramesh said the UPA government during its tenure has pumped in more assistance to Odisha for rural road connectivity projects.
“Unfortunately, what I found during my visit to the Kandhamal district as a member of the fact-finding team that the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana in this state has completely failed. The team did not find any road built under the PMGSY during the team’s visit to Gumudumaha except the muddy roads. I think that this road leading to this remote village is built under Chief Minister Gram Kichad (Mud) Yojana,” Ramesh said in a sarcastic note.
Also present on the occasion, another fact-finding member V Kishore Chandra Deo said the elite Special Operation Group (SOG) created by Odisha government is supposed to deal with law and order problems and not to kill innocent civilians. “They should be trained and sensitized properly and made to follow standard operating procedures (SOP),” he observed.
In his reaction, BJD spokesperson Samir Das said the Congress is trying to get political mileage by raking up the Kandhamal killing incident, which was an accident.
Talking about the welfare of the tribals, he said the Odisha government is doing its best for the all-round development of the tribals.
To a question on the visit of Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi to Odisha in September, he asked what steps the UPA government had taken for the upliftment of the tribals during its tenure? “All I can say that the visit of Rahul to Odisha is an eyewash and a futile attempt of the Congress to win the confidence of the people,” he added.