Bhubaneswar: Dubbing Congress-ruled Haryana as a " balatkar pradesh" (rape state), the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) on Friday expressed concern over spurt in crimes against Dalits in BJD-governed Odisha where a cabinet minister is booked on criminal charges for alleged casteist remarks.
There had been marked rise in crimes against Dalits in Odisha where conviction rate is very low, NCSC chairman PL Punia told reporters after holding a meeting to assess performance of the state government in providing constitutional safeguards to the SC population.
Drawing a parallel between Odisha and Haryana, Punia said while 19 rapes were committed in a month in the northern state, there was over 18 per cent rise in crimes like rape, murder and arson against Dalits in this eastern state.
The NCSC chairman pointed out that criminal cases had been filed against Odisha`s health and family welfare minister Damodor Rout. "A person facing criminal charges should not be in the ministry. However, it is the prerogative of the chief minister to decide who will be in his cabinet," Punia said.
Rout had been accused of making casteist remark against Dalits at a public meeting in his home district of Jagatsinghpur in 2010. Recently, the minister allegedly made a similar anti-Dalit statement during "Ravan Podi" celebration during the Dusshera festival a Paradip.
Punia said, "It is up to the chief minister whether to allow rout to continue."
On former minister Pradip Maharathy case, Punia said the commission was not happy over the Odisha police investigation which concluded that the prime accused in the Pipili rape and murder case Prasant Pradhan was not taking shelter at the MLA`s farm house.