Bhubaneswar: The Odisha Human Rights Commission (OHRC) has sought a report from the Government of Odisha over allegation that the police administration and concerned officials at the state level did not follow guidelines and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) set by Union Ministry of Home Affairs to maintain communal harmony, leading to a communal riot in Bhadrak during the month of April, 2017.
Acting upon a petition filled by the Human Rights activist Mr. Akhand of Civil Society Forum on Human Rights, the OHRC has directed the Principal Secretary of Home Department and Revenue Divisional Commissioner (Central), Government of Odisha, to submit a detailed report on the matter within four weeks.
According to the “Guidelines on Communal Harmony” issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs, “At the State level, meetings of the State level Integration Committee, under the Chairmanship of the Chief Minister, may be held at least once in a quarter to review the communal situation in the State.” But there has been no meeting of the State Integration Committee headed by the Chief Minister for years together, alleged Akhand.
Quoting the relevant portion of the guidelines, which says “As preventive measures, the District Administration should carefully assess the communal situation in the district on a regular basis and prepare a profile of the district. They should identify and specify areas which are prone to communal sensitivities and tensions.” Akhand said such exercises have never been undertaken in any area of the state, including Bhadrak.
It is to be noted that more than 500 shops were set ablaze in Bhadrak town and its periphery areas during April 6 to 8 after communal tension flared up between Hindus and Muslims.