Itishree Pradhan and Naveen Patnaik
Bhubaneswar, Dec. 10: The state government today turned down the Opposition’s demand in the Assembly for a CBI inquiry into the killing of school teacher Itishree Pradhan.
While the Opposition parties stuck to their demand or a CBI probe into the issue, chief minister Naveen Patnaik urged them to refrain from politicising it.
With Naveen not entertaining the Opposition’s demand, both the Congress and BJP members staged a walkout.
“This is an extremely regrettable incident. Opposition parties should not trivialise the issue for their narrow political gains. The state crime branch is making a thorough investigation and people found guilty will be punished,” he said.
Naveen said the police had been instructed to strictly follow the policy of zero tolerance when it came to crime against women.
He said four officials — investigating officer of the case Muralidhar Pradhan, inspector-in-charge Sujit Kumar Say, block education officer Dharanidhar Behera and sub-inspector of schools Netrananda Dandsena — had been dismissed from their jobs for their failure to properly act in the case.
Naveen was responding to an adjournment motion in the Assembly on the killing of the teacher of Tikiri Upper Primary School in Rayagada district, who had approached the higher ups of the state administration, including the district collector and chief minister, for help.
Goons had burnt her alive on October 27 on the school premises after she raised the issue of sexual harassment against the local sub-inspector of schools.
The Congress legislators had sat on a dharna in the Well of the House on Friday and had ended their protest on Monday after the government had assured that the chief minister would reply to their adjournment motion.
Moving the motion in the Assembly today, Congress chief whip Prasad Harichandan said: “Had the government addressed her grievance promptly, her life could have been saved. There was complete laxity on part of the government. In her dying declaration made before a magistrate, she had named the chief minister. The investigation must be handed over to the CBI.”
He recalled that the victim, between August 16 and November 24, had approached the district collector and superintendent of police of Rayagada district fearing for her life.
She had also drawn the attention of the director general of police, the chief minister, State Commission for Women, the school and mass education minister and Odisha State Human Rights Commission.
“But no one came to her rescue. But the way she had shown her bravery, an award should be instituted in her name. We will donate our salaries for the purpose,” he said.
Independent member attached to the BJP Pratap Chandra Sarangi said: “In her dying declaration, Itishree had named a lot of people including the chief minister for not coming to her rescue. Being the head of the home department, the chief minister cannot escape his responsibility. More than 1,000 women in the state have been killed in the past five years.”
Coming down heavily on the chief minister, Sarangi said: “Naveen babu has proved to be more shrewd than former Congress chief minister J.B. Patnaik, during whose tenure cases of torture of women hogged the limelight. The dismissal of four lower officials will not solve the purpose.”