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Updated: January 19, 2012 23:35 IST

Odisha Minister quits over Pipili gang rape case

Prafulla Das
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Odisha Agriculture Minister Pradeep Maharathy after submitting his resignation to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik in Bhubaneswar on Thursday.
PTI Odisha Agriculture Minister Pradeep Maharathy after submitting his resignation to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik in Bhubaneswar on Thursday.

Odisha Agriculture Minister Pradeep Maharathy resigned from his post on Thursday amid mounting criticism over his alleged links with accused persons in a case pertaining to the Pipili gang rape.

Mr. Maharathy's resignation came following Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik's statement on Wednesday that he would take a decision on dropping the Minister in a day or two.

The Minister, who represents Pipili constituency in the Assembly, however, wrote in his letter to the Chief Minister that he wanted to resign on moral grounds and to safeguard Mr. Patnaik's image.

The Minister's resignation was accepted by Governor Murlidhar Chandrakant Bhandare after Mr. Patnaik forwarded it.

Opposition onslaught

Mr. Maharathy, who was inducted into the Cabinet last May, had been under attack from Opposition parties as well as various social organisations and activists during the past few weeks for allegedly shielding those involved in the Pipili case in which a Dalit girl was gang-raped by four persons last November.

The 19-year-old victim was allegedly targeted as she was the prime witness in an alleged gang rape case that took place in her village in 2008 in which her friend was the victim.

The Pipili police, who had not registered a case on the basis of the victim's complaint in November, registered the same earlier this month following a direction from the State Human Rights Commission.

The main Opposition parties such as the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), however, were not satisfied with Mr. Maharathy's resignation, and sought a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the incident. They immediately reiterated their demand for the resignation of the Chief Minister who holds the Home portfolio.

Stir to continue

The Opposition announced that it would continue its agitation across the State to highlight its demand that the government transfer the investigation of the case from the Crime Branch of the State police to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for a fair probe.

“A drama”

Terming Mr. Maharathy's resignation “a drama” aimed at saving the Chief Minister from further embarrassment, Pradesh Congress Committee president Niranjan Patnaik said: “Mr. Patnaik should own moral responsibility and step down.”

Senior BJP leader Bijoy Mohapatra too demanded the Chief Minister's resignation. The agitation seeking Mr. Patnaik's resignation and a CBI investigation into the Pipili case would continue in the days to come, he added.

Meanwhile, the Odisha Gana Samaj, which had been spearheading the agitation by bringing many Opposition parties and social organisations together, said it would continue its agitation demanding a CBI probe into the case.

Buck stops with Patnaik

“If anybody had to take moral responsibility for what has happened in Pipili it should be the Chief Minister,” observed Rabi Das, one of the conveners of the Gana Samaj.

Resignation is not the solution. Its a example of coward. Lot of People elects a person among them as a leader to fight for justice on behalf of them and instead he simply drops his sword and leaves the battle and this system continues. If so, then why to choose a leader ? Let us fight of our own will.

from:  Sushant Mahanandia
Posted on: Jan 21, 2012 at 16:14 IST

Its a national shame that such incidents are taking place. While India aims to become a superpower such incidents are a blot on it's image. The victim should have been provided security as she was a prime witness to the rape of her friend. Our country on one hand, is becoming a concrete jungle in the cities while in rural parts law and order situation remains as that during the zamindari system or even worse.

from:  Ashwini Kumar
Posted on: Jan 20, 2012 at 15:40 IST
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