BHUBANESWAR: Senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh today alleged both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik turn “mouni babas” on issues of attacks on Dalits and tribals.
Ramesh, a member of the AICC team which visited Gumudumaha village in Kandhamal on Saturday, criticised the chief minister for his silence on the killing of five innocent dalits and tribals in police firing during an anti-Maoist operation near the village on July 8.
The remark of the senior Congress leader on Modi came at a time when there is criticism from different quarters for the Prime Minister’s silence on the attack on dalits in a Gujarat village recently.
Criticising the chief minister for his silence on the Kandhamal issue, Ramesh said such incidents have occured for the fourth time in a year where dalits and tribals have been killed by police. “This shows how insensitive and unconcerned the Chief Minister is towards the tribal people,” he said and added the response has exposed the “anti-tribal” approach of the BJD government.
Alleging that Gumudumaha incident was not an encounter, Ramesh criticised the state government for not initiating any action against erring police personnel. Stating that the incident has exposed the claim of all-round development made by the state government in tribal areas, Ramesh, a former union rural development minister, wanted to know where thousands of crores of rupees provided by UPA-I and UPA-II has gone.
The five member AICC team led by former union minister V Kishore Chandra Deo reviewed the development work implemented in the village and interacted with family members of the killed and other villagers. Deo alleged though the Centre had provided crores of rupees during the tenure of UPA-I and UPA-II under Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) and drinking water schemes, the state government failed to construct a road to the village and provide drinking water to the villagers. Deo demanded that the chief minister should visit Gumudumaha village and assure people of the state that incidents will not be repeated.
Arun Oraon, former union minister and a member of the AICC team, said the police did not follow standard operating procdure (SOP) while opening fire on the vehicle in which the villagers were travelling. Other members of team included former union ministers KH Muniyappa and Vincent Pala. OPCC president Prasad Harichandan and senior state leaders accompanied the AICC team.