As Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik continues to remain silent over the kidnap and murder of a lady teacher allegedly by the president of her school’s managing committee, political parties – Left, right and centre – are mounting pressure on him to dismiss Minister of State for Home DS Mishra for his alleged patronage to the prime accused in the case.
While the BJP and Congress activists have been protesting since the prime accused escaped from police custody in Bolangir district on October 17 before being re-captured two days later, Left parties such as the CPI, CPI(M) and the CPI(ML) – on Saturday jointly staged a demonstration at Bhubaneswar demanding a high court-monitored probe into the murder case.
The BJP’s women’s wing organised a symbolic funeral procession on the streets of Bhubaneswar claiming that “Law has died” in Odisha.
The ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) accused the saffron party of indulging in “cheap politics” over a murder case in which the prime accused has been arrested.
“We are demanding that a high court-monitored Special Investigation Team (SIT) probe into the incident. As the minister has not yet tendered his resignation, the chief minister should act immediately and sack him,” CPI Leader Ramkrushna Panda said.
If the BJD government wants atrocities against women to stop, Mr Patnaik who also holds the Home portfolio has to take stern action against those who are influential persons, he said.
The Left parties also demanded that the state government pay financial assistance of Rs one crore to the lady teacher’s family.
The 24-year-old lady teacher of a private school in Kalahandi district went missing on October 8 and her half-burnt decomposed body was exhumed from the playground of the school where she worked on October 19. The police have so far arrested two persons including the prime accused who, according to DIG (Northern Range) Deepak Kumar, has confessed to the crime.
It is alleged that the prime accused had a grudge against the teacher as she was aware of his two extra-marital affairs and had warned that she would expose him.
Intensifying its agitation, the BJP’s Mahila Morcha on Saturday claimed that “Law has died” in the state and sought to carry its “body” in a symbolic funeral procession from the party”s headquarters at Sri Ram Mandir Chhak to Naveen Niwas, the residence of the chief minister, around three kilometres away.
However, the police stopped them near Sishu Bhavan Chhak, around two kilometres from the party office, where they broke barricades and scuffled with the security personnel. Several women BJP leaders also courted arrest.
“The chief minister often says that law will take its own course. We ask him, how can justice come when the minister of state for home himself is involved in the case,” said Pravati Parida, a senior woman BJP leader.
A report from Kahanadi said the activists of the BJP’s youth wing gheraoed the office of the superintendent of police as part of its agitation demanding dismissal of Mr Mishra over his alleged links with the prime accused.
The Mayurbhanj district unit of the saffron party has given a notice to the collector for holding a peaceful 12-hour bandh on October 25. The party has already observed 12-hour bandhs in Bolangir and Kalahandi districts.
The ruling BJD termed the BJP’s agitation as politically motivated.
“The BJP’s has been doing sub-standard politics, it lacks minimum dignity,” a BJD spokesperson said.
The state Congress claimed that Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik is shielding the minister and he is in two minds over taking action against Mishra.
“He (Patnaik) did not allow DS Mishra to share dais with him at an official meeting in Mayurbhanj district on Friday. It is evident that the CM does not want to be seen alongside DS Mishra. We demand that the minister concerned be brought under the purview of the investigation,” Congress spokesperson SP Nayak told reporters.
The issue continued to dominate the state’s political scene since the prime accused escaped from Titlagarh police barrack when there was power disruption in the town on the night of October 17. He was kept there in detention in connection with “abduction” of the teacher. Opposition parties have been alleging that he managed to flee because of his political influence. He was recaptured on October 19.
Altogether two persons were arrested in connection with the kidnap and murder of the woman who was a resident of Bolangir district and worked in that school in Kalahandi district.
The police have also placed four of its men under suspension on charge of dereliction of duty in connection with the case.
Meanwhile, the chairperson of the State Commission for Women Minati Behera on Saturday visited the house of the teacher and assured her family members that justice will be done.
The victim”s parents demanded capital punishment for the prime accused and stringent action against the persons involved in the kidnap and murder of their daughter.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)