Activists of various organisations stage a dharna on the Mahatma Gandhi Marg

A large number of prominent activists, most of them women, staged a dharna on the Mahatma Gandhi Marg here on Thursday demanding CBI probe into the sexual harassment and murder of a woman schoolteacher who was working at Tikiri in Odisha’s Rayagada district.

Those who attended the dharna also demanded that Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik own moral responsibility as Home Minister since the administration had failed to prevent the murder of the victim who had written to the authorities concerned seeking justice. She had also written to Mr. Patnaik about her plight.

The teacher, who was set on fire while she was sleeping in the school hostel, died on November 1 in a private hospital in Visakhapatnam where she was admitted with 90 per cent burn injuries.

She was set on fire on the night of October 27 by an unidentified man for allegedly refusing to withdraw a molestation case that she had filed against School Inspector Netrananda Dandasena.

Sacked

Coming under criticism from opposition parties and social organisations over the issue, the State government dismissed four officials from government service on Wednesday.

The sacked officials were Rayagada District Inspector of Schools Dharanidhar Behera, School Inspector and main accused Dandasena, Inspector-in-Charge of Tikiri police station Sujit Kumar Say and Assistant Sub-Inspector of Tikiri police station Muralidhar Pradhan.

The officials were dismissed a day after a television channel telecast the statement, reportedly given by the victim, before her death in which she had blamed the Chief Minister and another Biju Janata Dal leader for the murderous attack on her.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik ordered a Crime Branch probe into the killing of the teacher who hailed from Delang area of Puri district, and announced ex gratia payment of Rs. 10 lakh to the family of the victim. The victim teacher’s father, also a retired teacher, had refused to accept the compensation amount.

Polygraph test

Meanwhile, Dandasena, who was arrested by the Crime Branch, was subjected to polygraph test in Bhubaneswar on Thursday. The unidentified man who had set the victim on fire is yet to be arrested.

A Crime Branch team also visited Tikiri during the day to conduct investigation in the case.

In another development, Chief Secretary J.K. Mohapatra, who held a meeting with Director-General of Police and other officials, said that the State government would soon write to the High Court of Orissa seeking that one Sessions court in each district should be identified as designated courts to conduct trial of cases relating to atrocities against women.

DGP Prakash Mishra told presspersons after the meeting that all those whose names had figured in the case would be questioned by the Crime Branch.