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Congress targets 'tainted' Orissa minister
Giridhar Gopal in Bhubaneswar | July 26, 2004 10:15 IST
Last Updated: July 26, 2004 12:32 IST
Following unrelenting pressure from the opposition National Democratic Alliance, Shibu Soren had to resign from the Union Council of Ministers after a court in Jharkhand issued a non-bailable warrant against him.
The NDA has been relentlessly demanding that the ruling United Progressive Allaince at the Centre drop 'tainted ministers', referring to those who are facing charge sheets in various cases.
However, the Bharatiya Janata Party-led NDA too has a few skeletons in its cupboard. According to the Sambad newspaper, Orissa's Women and Child Development Minister Pramila Mallik is also facing a non-bailable warrant.
Mallik is a member of the Biju Janata Dal member of the legislative assembly. The BJD rules Orissa in alliance with the BJP and is a member of the NDA.
The sub divisional judicial court in the coastal district of Jajpur, 120km from Bhubaneswar, had ordered the police to arrest Mallik in 1999 for attacking Binjharpur Block Development Officer Sidharth Dhal and ransacking his office with her supporters.
Dhal had lodged a complaint with the local police who had reportedly chargesheeted Mallik in the case. After she failed to appear in court despite being summoned, it had issued non-bailable arrest warrants, on January 28, 2003 and April 14, 2004. At that time, Mallik was a member of the Zilla Parishad.
Despite the warrant, she contested the assembly elections, elected to the state legislative assembly from Binjharpur and made a minister by Naveen Patnaik.
The police administration confirmed that warrants had indeed been issued against the minister but, Deputy Inspector General of Police Dr R P Sharma said, were not executed because there was no record in the police station.
"I had ordered a probe into the incident. The district superintendent of police found that the concerned police station had not made a record of the warrants. We have suspended the police officer, B K Jena, who allegedly suppressed the matter.
"Besides, we have moved the court to issue a fresh warrant so that we can take action against Mallik," he said.
In view of the Soren episode, the state Congress unit is happy to have got a stick to beat the ruling BJD-BJP government.
"It is just a cover up. Getting a fresh arrest warrant will take some time. By then, she would have obtained bail," senior congress leader Narasimha Mishra said.
"Mallik is a prominent leader of the ruling BJD and the police is escorting her to office. It is time Patnaik stopped this and asked her to resign. Else, the Congress party will stage demonstrations inside and outside the assembly," he said.
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