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Odisha minister Pradeep Maharathy, who hailed acquittal of Pipili gangrape and murder accused, resigns

Pradeep Maharathy’s resignation comes a day after PM Narendra Modi raised the issue of justice eluding the victim’s family.

india Updated: Jan 06, 2019 16:48 IST
Debabrata Mohanty
Debabrata Mohanty
Hindustan Times, Bhubaneswar,
Pradeep Maharathy,Pipili gangrape,Pipili gangrape and murder
Odisha agriculture minister and senior BJD leader Pradeep Maharathy, who had made a controversial statement on the acquittal of a murder and rape accused, resigned from Naveen Patnaik ministry on Sunday.(PTI)

Odisha agriculture minister and senior BJD leader Pradeep Maharathy, who had made a controversial statement on the acquittal of a murder and rape accused, resigned from Naveen Patnaik’s government on Sunday. His resignation comes a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi raised the issue of justice eluding the victim’s family.

Maharathy had hailed the judgement of a sessions court acquitting the two accused in the case of rape and murder of a Dalit girl. Soon after the additional district judge of Khurda acquitted accused brothers Prashant Pradhan and Sukanta Pradhan in the 2011 Pipili gang rape and murder case, Maharathy hailed it saying “truth and justice has prevailed”.

BJD sources said with each passing day, he was becoming a liability for Patnaik.

Speaking about the issue of poor record of women safety in Odisha, PM Modi in his public rally at Baripada town of Mayurbhanj district on Saturday had attacked chief minister Naveen Patnaik over the gangrape and murder of the Dalit girl and urged him to get the matter re-investigated. “The system could not give justice to the girl. The government is not taking the matter seriously,” Modi had alleged in his speech.

The 18-year-old girl of Puri district, who had gone out for morning ablutions, was found in a dishevelled state near her village in November 2011. Her family members alleged that local youth Prashant Pradhan and his brother Sukanta Pradhan raped and strangulated her as she refused to marry the former. The strangulation led to severe hypoxia(lack of oxygen supply) in her brain and damaged her cerebrum, sending her into a state of prolonged coma. She died six months later.

The trial court said the prosecution failed to prove the circumstances and could not establish the complete chain of events proving that the two brothers had committed the crime.

Meanwhile, the State CID has announced that it will move Orissa High Court challenging the acquittal of the two accused.

Last month, Odisha Pradesh Mahila Congress members had hurled tomatoes and eggs at the residential quarters of Maharathy demanding his ouster from the Cabinet and the BJP women’s wing workers had tried to gherao CM Patnaik’s residence.

“Maharathy has hurt the 4.5 crore people of Odisha with his irresponsible comment. It’s surprising and alarming that a minister of the Naveen Patnaik government, which is vouching for 33 per cent reservation of women in legislative assemblies and Parliament, made such an unacceptable comment,” said Aparajita Sarangi, BJP leader.

First Published: Jan 06, 2019 16:17 IST