In the midst of the ongoing rumpus created by opposition MLAs in the Assembly over the mysterious death of woman panchayat official Smitarani Biswal, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has said politicizing human tragedy relating to women is “inhuman”. While replying to the debate on the supplementary statement of expenditure of the Home department in the Assembly, what the CM said is relevant and opportune. Politicizing any human misfortune especially relating to women is cruel and heartless.
For some days now, the opposition members belonging to both the parties have been alleging that there is a steep rise of crimes against women in the state. During the debate when Leader of Opposition Pardipta Naik of the BJP and Congress Legislature Party leader Narasingha Mishra referred to the panchayat official’s death case and accused the state government of shielding the culprits claiming those ruling BJD leaders were involved in it, there is nothing to hide from view.
The way this particular case has been handled speaks volumes about the law and order situation in the state. Nevertheless, the reply by the Chief Minister is equally poignant. In his reply, Patnaik tried to keep politics out of the case. “Today, I am not going to make a regular statement. Forget that I am a chief minister of 19 years or that I am president of the Biju Janata Dal. This kind of politics will never give any return. We are a mature democracy. We represent four and a half crore people of Odisha. Let us set high standards of political discourse both in the Assembly and outside.
It is a truth that rape, murder and other crimes against women are extremely sad events. But, as the chief minister said, trying to earn brownie points of such incidents only multiplies the trauma and gives a very wrong message to the people at large and young people in particular.
The CM was right when he said, ‘In case anyone is not satisfied with the probe, he or she can move court. Let me assure you that any neglect against cases especially relating to women and children will not be spared and exemplary action would be taken.’
Patnaik referred to at least four rape and murder cases of minors where culprits were given capital punishments due to prompt and professional investigation. At the same time, he sent a strong message to the police saying, “Do your job with commitment, without fear or favor. Do not bother about statistics of registration of cases. For my government, people are more important than statistics.”
The CM claimed that the overall law and order and crime situation was largely under control. While this one point is debatable, it goes without saying that many governments in the past have fallen by the side because of rape cases – Chhabirani case in particular. Having said that, it is also the responsibility of the opposition to debate on other urgent issues and depart from those for which inquiry is going on.