Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Feb 23:
Denouncing the Odisha government’s action of sending youth Congress members to jail for hurling eggs and stones at chief minister’s motorcade, veteran Congress leader and former minister Niranjan Pattanaik today stressed that the state government cannot ‘stifle’ the voice of youth in the state.
The youth Congress members were registering protest in a peaceful and democratic manner against the unemployment crisis prevailing in the state. The government has booked them under section 307 of the IPC (attempt to murder) and conspiracy which is condemnable, Pattanaik said after meeting the youth Congress members at the Jharpada jail here.
“As per government data, unemployment among the registered jobseekers in the state is increasing thereby contributing to exodus and is a matter of serious concern. The investments and development works have come to a halt owing to administrative inefficiency. Local youth are not being provided with jobs at places were industries are coming up,” Pattanaik alleged.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik seems to be in a state of self delusion as he thinks that the youth would be satisfied with Re 1/ kg rice scheme, umbrella, quilt, and bi-cycle distributed to them, for which they will vote for him, Patnaik said.
Expressing concern over the declining educational standards, Pattanaik said, Utkal University was among the premier varsities in the country. However, it has lost its national significance in the last 15 years. Moreover, over 50 percent teaching posts are lying vacant in various universities across the state. The quality of higher education was quite superior as compared to other states. But, it is dwindling fast for which the resentment among the youth is increasing and is but natural.
The state government is not in a position to accept the bitter reality. Fearing such protests in future, the state government has put the protesting youth behind bars on false charges of attempt to murder and conspiracy. This has never happened in the Odisha history where democratic protests were muffled with misuse of police administration. Why is Naveen Babu so scared?” Pattanaik questioned.
The former PCC president demanded immediate release of the members and withdrawal of cases against them.
Besides, the state government should bring reforms in its policies and should it not lay emphasis on unemployment crisis and educational reforms, it would face more protests, he cautioned.