Facing stiff opposition from the opposition parties and civil society groups over the alleged gangrape of a dalit girl, Odisha agriculture minister Pradip Maharathi on Thursday resigned from state cabinet.
''In no way I am connected with the incident. But the opposition is unnecessarily trying to take mileage from the issue and tarnish the BJD governments image. However, I submitted my resignation on moral grounds to make way for free and fair investigation into the incident,'' Maharathi said after submitting his resignation to chief minister Naveen Patnaik. Patnaik sent it to governor MC Bhandare.
The girl 19-year-old girl was found in a serious condition on November 28 last year in a village under Pipili police station in Puri district, about 40 km east of Bhubaneswar. She has since slipped into a coma and is now struggling for her live in the SCB Medical College Hospital in Cuttack.
The girl's family had lodged a complaint after her alleged rape but the Pipili police station did not take any action. It was after the intervention of the State Womens Commission on January 7 that her plight attracted limelight.
The local police registered the case on January 9 following the interven tion of Orissa high court, State Womens Commission and State Human Rights Commission. The state government handed over the investigation of the case to police crime branch and later instituted a judicial probe into the incident.
The incident kicked off a political storm with her family, social activists and opposition parties alleging that Maharathi, who represented Pipili assembly constituency, protected the culprits and their accomplices.
Though Maharathi denied the allegations, the stir against him and even the chief minister intensified across the state demanding their resignation over the issue and a CBI probe into the incident.
Sources said Patnaik advised Mararathi to put in papers following hectic close door meetings to evert the crisis on his government.