The continuing probe in opposition to a former chief secretary and one other senior bureaucrat of the Andaman & Nicobar Islands on allegations of sexual abuse has highlighted the absence of a political construction within the Union Territory, with powers totally vested in officers.
Prime politicians of the islands rued that with no Meeting, and with a Pradesh Council that had elected representatives abolished since 1994, even their advisory position stays curtailed, leading to inordinate powers with the forms, particularly the Chief Secretary.
As reported first in The Indian Specific, a Particular Investigation Workforce of the A&N Police is probing allegations of gangrape and sexual assault in opposition to former Chief Secretary Jitendra Narain, and Labour Commissioner R L Rishi on a grievance by a 21-year-old girl. As a part of the investigation, police are claims that over 20 girls have been allegedly taken to Narain’s residence in Port Blair throughout his year-long tenure, and a few are mentioned to have gotten jobs in lieu of sexual favours. Narain was transferred round three months in the past, and has now been suspended.
The current MP from the A&N Islands (it has just one parliamentary seat), Kuldeep Rai Sharma of the Congress, highlights the logistical issues in governance of the archipelago, which contains over 500 islands, solely 36 of that are inhabited. “Right here it’s the bureaucrats led by the Chief Secretary who’re the policymakers, and it’s excessive time the Pradesh Council was introduced again with full government powers. It’s only the native politicians who know the bottom realities whereas the bureaucrats deal with it as simply one other posting,” the MP mentioned.
The CPI(M) Secretary, A&N, D Ayyappan served because the Senior Personal Secretary to Jitendra Narain for nearly a 12 months. To start with of 2022, he give up his authorities job to take up full-time celebration work. Calling prices in opposition to Narian symptomatic of the big clout bureaucrats wield, he says they run the present “within the absence of a democratic set-up”. “There isn’t any discussion board the place the folks’s representatives can go and the officers proceed to take all coverage and monetary choices. Even the doorways of the Raj Bhavan are shut to all.”
About Narain, the CPI(M) chief says: “He had an especially autocratic type of functioning and would normally harass his workers.”
Ayappan provides that when the Pradesh Council was abolished throughout Congress rule, with an modification within the A&N Municipal Regulation, solely the CPI(M) had criticised the transfer and even the BJP was silent. The CPI(M) has since been demanding the institution of a Puducherry-model Meeting and Authorities in Port Blair.
The BJP, which didn’t touch upon the sexual assault prices in opposition to Narain until he was directed by the Calcutta Excessive Court docket to look earlier than the SIT, has since issued an announcement condemning the incident. Its senior leaders additionally say the Pradesh Council needs to be revived with government powers.
BJP A&N president Ajoy Bairagi says persons are struggling within the absence of a political construction. “There are over 200 authorities staffers, principally senior, who took voluntary retirement through the tenure of Chief Secretary Jitendra Narain. Right here, the ultimate powers for all decision-making, from A to Z, relaxation with the Chief Secretary, and that’s the reason such a severe scenario has arisen.”
The BJP’s Bishnu Pada Ray, who has been three-time A&N MP (Vishal Jolly misplaced the 2019 elections to the Congress’s Kuldeep Rai Sharma) says that round two months earlier than the switch of Narain as Chief Secretary, he and Bairagi had met Union Residence Minister Amit Shah in regards to the “loot and plunder” within the distant territory.
Based on him, the Residence Minister took motion, and that one of many measures was Narain’s switch.
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