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Suryakant Jena

Nabarangpur: Odisha Commerce and Transport Minister Nrusingha Sahu today courted controversy reading out the name of a living freedom fighter while paying tributes to the departed souls who fought for the country's independence at a district-level flag hoisting ceremony on Republic Day today.

Sahu, who was the chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations in Nabarangpur, hoisted the tricolour flag and took the salute following which he paid tributes to several freedom fighters for their role in the struggle for independence. However, he went on to mention the name of local freedom fighter Mohammad Baji in his tribute speech, without knowledge of the fact that he is still alive.

Baji's grandson criticised the minister and the district administration for wrongly mentioning Baji in his tribute speech. Seeking immediate apology from the minister, Baji's grandson Shiraj Amhed questioned the district administration's move to invite Sahu to attend the function.

"I don't know why the government sends such ministers who don't even have any local knowledge. Not only me but also the people of the entire region are disappointed and I blame the district administration, the minister and the State-government for this incident," said Ahmed.

Similarly Kadambini Tripathy, granddaughter-in-law of former chief minister of Odisha Sadashiv Tripathy also criticised the organisers for such a blatant mistake.

"It is a matter of happiness that the minister came to join us during the flag hoisting ceremony but it is unfortunate that he paid homage to a living freedom fighter. The district administration should have had knowledge about Baji, and even the minister should have been cautious. We condemn the incident because it is a disgrace to every one of us," Kadambini Tripathy said.

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