Thursday, May 28, 2009

Blow to Kandhamal caste certificate probe

Bhubaneswar : The drive in Kandhamal against use of fake caste certificates for government jobs, which was started in November last year soon after the anti-Christian riots, has come to a grinding halt with the vigilance department withdrawing the 10 specially deputed investigating officers (IOs).

The alleged use of fake caste certificates was one of the major reasons for building anger in the tribal-dominated district against Christians, which ultimately led to the riots in which 38 people were killed.

Officials said Kandhamal, which has 25 per cent Christian population, had seen many Dalit Christians submitting fake tribal certificates for government jobs and buying lands. The law enables job reservation for people belonging to Scheduled Tribes even after converting to another religion, whereas Dalits are not eligible for quota if they convert.

Apparently, many Dalits, mostly Christians in Kandhamal, reportedly used fake certificates that showed them as members of Kandha tribe. Several officials and politicians face the allegations.

Though the state Government had deputed 10 vigilance department inspectors to investigate 876 allegations on the issue of forged caste certificates, they were quietly withdrawn in February this year. “Of the 800-odd cases, the inspectors had investigated less than half the cases when they were called back by their parent department. This has hit the investigation process,” said Kandhamal Collector Krishan Kumar.

Chief Secretary Ajit Tripathy, who reviewed the progress of the special package announced by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik for Kandhamal district on Monday, was apparently dismayed by the return of the inspectors. While directing the home department to depute the required number of inspectors for probing the remaining cases, Tripathy asked the Collector to cancel the false caste certificates immediately.

Click here for source