The Congress party on Tuesday demanded that Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik resign over the communal violence in Kandhamal district as the Supreme Court had held the central and state governments responsible for the security of minorities.
A Supreme Court bench of Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan, Justice Markandey Katju and Justice P Sathasivam had on Monday said that the central and state governments should "ensure the minority's safety".
"The apex court's observation is quite clear. Chief Minister Naveen Pantaik has no right to stay in power for even a minute," state Congress president Jayadev Jena told IANS.
He added that the state government woke up to the matter only after thousands of Christians in Kandhamal, about 200 km from here, had fled to nearby forests following the communal riots.
“He (Patnaik) should resign immediately. If he doesn't resign, the Congress will take the issue to the public," Jena said.
The Supreme court bench was hearing a petition by Cuttack Archbishop Raphel Cheenath, seeking Christians' safety in Kandhamal, the district that was ravaged by anti-Christian violence following the killing of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati and four of his associates Aug 23.
While police blamed Maoists for the killings, some Hindu organisations held Christians responsible for the crime and launched attacks on the community. Christian organisations have repeatedly denied their involvement in the murder.
At least 38 people were killed and thousands of Christians were forced to flee their homes after their houses were attacked by rampaging mobs. Over 6,000 people are still living in government-run relief camps in the district.