The 19-year-old dalit girl of Puri district in Odisha, whose alleged gang rape stirred the conscience of the nation and cost the job of a minister, died in the hospital on Thursday after undergoing treatment for more than six months.
"She died as a result of septicaemia, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and cardio-respiratory failure," Bhubanananda Moharana, superintendent of SCB Medical College, Cuttack, told reporters.
The alleged gang rape victim was found by the side of a road in a village under Pipili police station in Puri district, about 15 km east of Bhubaneswar, on November 28 last year.
She had since slipped into coma and been struggling for life at SCB Medical College Hospital. Police have arrested four persons in the case.
The alleged gang rape of the girl had snowballed into a major controversy in the state with demonstrations by political parties, women, students and social organisations.
The then agriculture minister Pradip Maharathi, who represents Pipili assembly constituency, came under opposition fire after news surfaced that Pipili police had not taken action even after the woman’s family members lodged a complaint.
The woman’s family, social activists and opposition parties alleged Maharathi was protecting the suspects and the ruling Biju Janata Dal, headed by chief minister Naveen Patnaik, found itself in the vortex of a political storm.
Following the intervention of Odisha high court, the state women’s commission and the state human rights commission, local police registered a case on January 9.
The state government directed the police crime branch to investigate the case and later instituted a judicial probe. Maharathi also resigned as agriculture minister following public outcry over the issue, while the Pipili police station inspector in charge was dismissed from service.