New Delhi: Home minister Shivraj Patil was severely criticized on Thursday by his colleagues at a cabinet meeting for not doing enough to stop the violence in Orissa, said a person close to the matter.
“Most ministers were furious at the home ministry’s failure at effective intervention in Orissa to protect the minority community,” he said on condition of anonymity.
Some 16 people—mostly Christians—have been killed in Orissa in recent days. “The Prime Minister himself said that there should be more effective measures to bring normalcy there,” the person said.
Taking stock: Home minister Shivraj Patil (left) interacts with villagers in violence-hit Kandhamal, Orissa, on Wednesday. Subhav Shukla / PTI
The home ministry, however, denied such allegations. “The central home ministry has done everything as sought by the state government,” said a ministry official, who didn’t wish to be named.
“We have so far released 33 companies of Rapid Action Force and Central Reserve Police Force to the state and assured the state government we will be providing whatever assistance it needs,” he said.
Meanwhile, in the meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, several senior ministers, including railway minister Lalu Prasad, demanded outlawing Bajrang Dal, a pro-Hindu outfit allegedly responsible for the bloodshed in Orissa.
Other ministers who sought the ban include information and broadcasting minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi, parliamentary affairs minister Vayalar Ravi and minority affairs minister A.R. Antulay, said a minister present at the meeting, who refused to be named.
“The ministers fiercely argued for a ban on Bajrang Dal,” he said, adding that law minister H.R. Bharadwaj has agreed to consider a ban on the organization.
The minister also said the cabinet did not take up the matter of a proposed legislation restricting publishing opinion and exit polls before voting is over, as there were differences over such a move.
Earlier, the Congress party that leads the ruling United Progressive Alliance, had favoured a ban. “The question is why Bajrang Dal should not be banned,” minister of state for home affairs and party spokesperson Shakeel Ahmed had said.
Steel minister Ram Vilas Paswan has also sought a ban on the outfit.