With chairman of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) P L Punia doggedly pursuing the case, Health and Family Welfare Minister Damodar Rout finds himself again in trouble for his alleged remarks against the Dalits at a public meeting.
Rout, who was back in the Cabinet after the exit of Pyarimohan Mohapatra from the centrestage of BJD politics, is in a difficult situation now as the State Government is in no mood to bail him out in this case.
Sources said the State Government has informed the commission that it would oppose Rout’s plea to quash the FIR against him pending before the High Court. Home Secretary U N Behera has reportedly written a letter to the commission informing it about the State Government’s decision.
The case is turning out to be quite embarrassing for the Government as the Chief Secretary and the Director-General of Police (DGP) have been summoned before the commission.
Chief Secretary Bijay Kumar Patnaik, who was again summoned to appear before the commission on October 15, could not do so as he was away on personal work. Government sources said the Chief Secretary will appear at a subsequent date.
Annoyed over Rout’s utterances, some Dalit organisations had lodged FIRs against him under Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (prevention of atrocity) Act, 1989. They also moved the NCSC seeking justice. Jagatsinghpur MP Bibhu Prasad Tarai and BJD MLA from Jagatsinghpur Bishnu Charan Das met the commission chairman in this connection.
Rout, however, did not make any comment on the issue. “I will not like to comment on the matter now as it is sub judice. I have faith in the judiciary,” he said. The Minister has filed a petition in the High Court seeking quashing of the FIR against him.
Sources said the Human Rights Protection Cell (HRPC) of the Home Department had also inquired into the incident and submitted a report.