The rape of a 19-year-old dalit girl at a village in Odisha's Puri district has caused an uproar in the state with the victim's family accusing agriculture minister Pradip Maharathi of trying to shield the perpetrators of the crime.
The girl was allegedly raped on November 28 by two persons in Arjungada village, which falls under the Pipili assembly constituency, about 40 km from here. She was found in a serious condition and has slipped into a coma since.
On Thursday, many women and students organisations held demonstrations in Bhubaneswar and Pipili demanding arrest of the culprits. They also demanded an inquiry into the role of Maharathi, who represents Pipili constituency, in the incident.
"The local police have tried to suppress the incident at the behest of their political bosses in the ruling Biju Janata Dal," Odisha Congress president Niranjan Patnaik said.
Maharathi, on the other hand, denied his role in the incident. "This is a deplorable incident and involving me in it smacks of political conspiracy. Let the truth come out and action be taken against the culprits," he said.
Hearing a petition, the Orissa HC on Tuesday directed the crime branch to apprehend the culprits and submit a status report on January 16.
"We have formed a team to nab the culprits," said state director general of police Manmohan Praharaj.
The victim was a key witness in another rape case that occurred in January 2008. Since then she was receiving threats.