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Pradeep Pattanayak

A pregnant aspirant for the post of Panchayat Samiti member has launched a sit-in at the Tentulikhunti block office in Nabarangpur district after her nomination paper was rejected by the election officer. 
Namita Sagaria, who is staging a dharna, alleged the election officer, working hand in glove with her competitors, had rejected her nomination paper. Sagaria had filed her nomination for the post of Samiti member from Kamata Panchayat. Her nomination was rejected after her caste certificate was found out to be invalid. 

Meanwhile, Sagaria has said that she is determined to continue her dharna till justice is delivered to her. “I am pregnant and have been here without food. No official is even bothered to visit me and if anything happens to me, the block development officer (BDO) and tehsildar will be responsible for that,” Sagaria warned. 

Speaking on the row over her caste certificate, Sagaria said, “My nomination has been rejected on the grounds that my caste certificate is duplicate. However, I must mention here that this was the same certificate that I was issued by the Tehsildar. Prior to this, the Tehsildar and the Revenue Inspector (RI) had visited my house for an enquiry. Now, the BDO is terming my caste certificate as duplicate which is shocking.”

When contacted over his mobile phone, local Tehsildar Pradeep Kar said, “A caste certificate is issued on the basis of the caste of the applicant’s father. This apart, an applicant’s present religion is also taken into consideration. Sagaria was issued the certificate in which she was declared as an SC candidate. Later, however after other villagers lodged a written complaint alleging that Sagaria has converted into Christianity, her certificate has been reverted back.”
“A fresh enquiry will be conducted and if she is found to be a Christian, she would be issued an OBC certificate, instead of an SC one,” Kar added. 

Tentulikhunti BDO Duryodhan Bhoi said Sagaria’s caste certificate had been cancelled on the basis of the Tehsildar’s report, which stated the document as invalid.  “Had it not been the case, she would have been asked to submit an affidavit to contest the elections,” Bhoi added.

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