Black stole row: OHRC notice to Sundergarh SP

Bhubaneswar: Odisha Human Rights Commission (OHRC) on Thursday sought a reply from Sundergarh Superintendent of Police (SP) Nikhil Kanodia over the black stole incident which led to state-wide uproar in past few days, besides unruly scenes in the ongoing Odisha Assembly.

The rights panel, acknowledging complaints from two social activists and Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Mahila Morcha asked the SP to submit the report within four weeks. Two days back a woman from Cuttack had also filed a PIL in Orissa High Court making the Home Secretary, DGP, Sundergarh Collector and SP party in the incident. On December 4, citing security reasons the police had ‘forcefully’ removed black stoles and shawls from women who came to attend a public meeting of chief minister Naveen Patnaink at Sundergarh.

The incident, despite an inquiry order by the CM two days back, became a fodder for the Opposition parties to corner the ruling BJD in the ongoing winter session of the House. While BJP demanded an unconditional apology from CM Patnaik over the issue, Congress alleged the BJD supremo’s hand behind the matter.

On Tuesday clad in black sarees, over a hundred activists of Congress party staged demonstration near Master Canteen square here and resorted to road blockade. They shouted anti-Naveen slogans for ‘hurting’ the sentiments of the women.

“The Chief Minister, who claimed to have great respect for women, has insulted the mothers at his rally. The women wearing black sarees were not allowed entry into Patnaik’s meeting. The CM should tender unconditional apology”, said Sasmita Behera, State Women Congress president.

Activists of the saffron party too staged demonstration in all the 314 blocks and urban areas protesting against dishonour of women at Patnaik’s meeting.

Observing bedlam in the House and a day after expressing regret in the matter, Patnaik on Wednesday told the House that his government is committed to preserve women’s dignity.
“I strongly share the concern of this august house on the issue of security personnel removing black ‘Odhani’ of girls in a government programme in Sundergarh district on 4th of this month”, Patnaik told the House.

Talking about a probe being ordered into the incident, the chief minister said the security forces have also been warned not to repeat such things in future.

“When I came to know this incident, I was personally shocked. I called Home secretary and DGP and warned against such conduct which denigrates human dignity and warned against repetition.
DGP has been asked to conduct an inquiry in to the matter and take appropriate action on the defaulting security personnel. Inspector General of Police, western Range, Rourkela is already enquiring into the incident”, Patnaik added.