Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Feb 25:
Senior Congress leader Niranjan Patnaik, while condemning the murderous attack on Law minister Maheswar Mohanty in Puri on Friday night, has slammed the Odisha government for allowing the law and order situation in the pilgrim town to reach a stage where even cabinet ministers are not safe.
“If cabinet ministers are being fired at, people will think twice before selecting Puri and the golden-triangle as a preferred tourist destination,” Patnaik said in a statement released on Tuesday.
“The Government of Odisha cannot owe a greater responsibility to the people of the state than maintaining law and order in Puri, the holiest of the holy places for all Odias and I leave it to people of the state to judge how well the BJD Government has performed this responsibility,” he said.
The former PCC chief said Puri has now become infamous for anti-social gangs moving around freely in the town in motor bikes with country-made guns and crude bombs extorting money, running drug and prostitution rackets and fighting gang wars.
“The government can ill afford to be in a perpetual state of denial regarding the actual state of affairs in Puri, the holiest of places in India and the soul of Odisha’s culture, religious belief and heritage,” he said.
The disputes over properties of the various monasteries and abandoned structures have given rise to land-sharks, who are patronizing criminal gangs with the involvement of political elements. With land costs rising exponentially in the holy town, land-grab has become a principal reason for gang fights.
“People from Puri have told me that the situation leading to the attack on the minister was predictable and had been developing over a long period of time without the police taking recourse to any preventive or punitive steps. These allegations are quite serious and need to be thoroughly probed,” Patnaik said.
The Congress leader s asked the Chief Minister to carry out a comprehensive review and ask the police to curb the activities of various criminal gangs of Puri town with the full force of the law without any hesitation so that Puri can continue to be a safe and attractive destination not merely for pilgrims, but also tourists from all over India and the world, particularly taking into consideration Nabakalebara in 2015.
“The unfortunate attack on the minister should shake the law enforcement agencies out of their slumber and propel them to act decisively to restore the reputation of the town as a place to seek peace and religious bliss,” he said.