Even as demonstrations by political parties, women, students and social organizations continued for the second day to protest against alleged gang rape of a dalit girl in Pipili in Puri district, the Odisha government on Friday ordered a judicial inquiry into the incident.
The issue has now snowballed into a major controversy with the opposition parties demanding a CBI probe into the incident. They also demanded the resignation of chief minister Naveen Patnaik, who holds home portfolio, and agriculture minister Pradip Maharathi, who represents Pipili assembly constituency.
The state government took the decision for judicial probe after receiving a report in this regard from home secretary UN Behera.
The decision has been taken as per the chief minister’s direction. The commission will submit his report within three months, Odisha chief secretary BK Patnaik told the media persons.
The government suspended the police inspector in charge (IIC) of Pipili police station AK Champatiray, who did not take the complaint from the victims family after the incident. On Thursday, Champatiray had been transferred from his post.
Earlier, the state government had also handed over the investigation into the incident to the state police crime branch.
However, opposition parties alleged that handing over the probe to crime branch and instituting judicial enquiry would not provide justice to the victim and her family.
In the last 12 years, the state government has ordered many judicial inquiries to probe many incidents. Not a single of them have given their reports so far, Odisha Congress president Niranjan Patnaik said, adding that only a CBI probe would do justice to the victim and her family.
Odisha BJP chief Jual Oram said: The chief minister, who holds home portfolio, has lost all moral authority to continue. He should resign. Former union minister Braja Kishore Tripathy also held similar view saying they did not have faith in crime branch as it was under tremendous pressure from the government.
The girl was allegedly raped on November 28 by two persons in Arjungada village under Pipili police station in Puri district, about 40 km east of Bhubaneswar. She was found in a serious condition and has since slipped into a coma.
Her father alleged that the culprits strangulated her after raping her. The victim was a key witness in another rape case that occurred in January 2008. Since then she was receiving threats while the case was still in court, said her father.
The girls family had lodged a complaint after her alleged rape but the Pipili police 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 intervention of Orissa high court and State Human Rights Commission.
She was taken to the Capital Hospital in Bhubaneswar and then SCB Medical College Hospital in Cuttack, where she is now struggling for her life.
The incident took a political turn with her family, social activists and political parties alleging that the culprits and their accomplices were protected by Odisha agriculture minister Pradip Maharathi, who represented Pipili assembly constituency.
Maharathi has denied the allegations.
Hearing a petition, the Orissa high court had, on Tuesday, directed the police’s crime branch to apprehend the culprits and submit a status report on January 16.