National

Oppn. turns heat on Orissa Minister in missing woman case

A massive political controversy erupted in Odisha after Opposition BJP and the Congress demanded the removal of Dibya Shankar Mishra, Minister of State for Home, accused of having close links with the main suspect in the mysterious disappearance of a woman teacher.

The accused, Gobinda Sahu, president of the managing committee of Sunshine English Medium School in Kalahandi’s Mahaling where the teacher Mamita Meher was working, escaped from a police station on Monday. The next day, a half-burnt human corpse was exhumed from an under-construction stadium in the school.

Family members identified the hand bag and gold chain found near the body. Investigators are likely to go for a DNA test to ascertain the identity of the corpse.

According to her brother Banti Meher, Ms. Meher was asked to attend a meeting at the school on October 9. The teacher, who belongs to Balangir’s Turekela, had taken a bus to the school on October 8. “However, Gobinda Sahu picked her up midway. Since then we have not had any information about her,” he said.

The accused was summoned to the police station on October 14. For the next three days, he was questioned by the police. On the evening of October 17, he escaped from the police station. Three police personnel were placed under suspension for their laxity.

However, Sahu was apprehended soon after police raised the reward money for information about him from ₹20,000 to ₹1 lakh on Tuesday.

Meher’s family members and locals pointed fingers at Minister Mr. Mishra, who was said to be a regular visitor to the school. The family also alleged sexual exploitation on the school premises and claimed the teacher had threatened to expose those involved.

Congress and the BJP accused the Minister of orchestrating the escape of the suspect. They alleged that the accused would have revealed names of influential Ministers and MLAs who were frequenting the school for “sexual activities”.

“The suspect Gobinda Sahu used to brag about his high connections. Dozens of video clips of present Ministers attending functions in the schools on different occasions are doing the round on social media. Though Mahaling College and the school are privately managed institutions, the State has spent government funds for its development. It establishes the link,” alleged Congress leader Santosh Singh Saluja.

Mr. Saluja demanded that the case be handed over to the CBI and the Minister step down immediately to pave the way for an unbiased investigation.

In Bhubaneswar, members of the student wing of the Congress hurled eggs at the official residence of Mr. Mishra demanding his resignation. Women Congress leaders too staged a demonstration at Master Canteen Square here on Tuesday.

The State BJP took out a procession demanding the Minister’s ouster. Its activists burnt effigies of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and the Minister.


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Printable version | Dec 3, 2021 8:01:04 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/oppn-turns-heat-on-orissa-minister-in-missing-woman-case/article37081550.ece

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