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Odishatv Bureau

The Odisha government has come under fire of the Opposition BJP and Congress parties for allegedly protecting Keonjhar Collector Ashish Thakare against whom an arrest warrant was issued by the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST).

Recently, the Orissa High Court stayed the NCST’s arrest warrant which was issued against Thakare for failing to respond to summons to appear before it in connection with complaints related to tribal affairs.

Meanwhile, the State government has reportedly roped in a Supreme Court lawyer by spending lakhs of rupees to appear before the NCST and defend Keonjhar Collector, making grounds for the Opposition to target the State government. 
As per sources, Chief Resident Commissioner will appear before the NCST on April 26 along with Supreme Court lawyer Pinky Anand on behalf of Thakare.

In a letter, Advocate General of Odisha, Ashok Parija has advised the State Law department to engage Pinky Anand as counsel to appear before the NCST, Delhi in the proceeding pending before the Commission.

Parija also mentioned the fee to be paid to the Supreme Court lawyer which is Rs 9,07,500.

Senior BJP leader and opposition chief whip Mohan Majhi said that protecting the Collector who defied summons in connection with complaints related to tribal affairs is unfortunate and termed the bureaucrat as anti-tribal.

“What is the rationale behind spending lakhs of rupees on lawyer for a Collector who defied the summons. The Collector must present his view before the Commission. Then things will be clear, whether he works for tribals or for BJD by misusing government machinery,” Majhi added.

“The government as well as the ruling party receive huge revenue from Keonjhar. So helping the Collector is natural. It indicates that the State government is protecting erring officials,” alleged Congress leader Nishikanta Mishra.

Senior journalist Rabi Das said, “The Commission had asked the DGP of Odisha to arrest the Collector and produce him before it. Instead, the government is appointing lawyer to defend the Collector. It clearly indicates that the government is trying to protect the Collector from whatever mistakes he does. No democratic setup will function in such a scenario.”

The reaction of Keonjhar Collector and the ruling party could not be obtained on the allegations of the Opposition.

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