Modi Gets 1 Wicket

A day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi raising the Pipili rape and murder case at a public meeting in Baripada, BJD strong man and Odisha’s Agriculture Minister Pradeep Maharathy resigned.

Mr.Maharathy was in midst of controversy for his remarks on the acquittal of the accused in a gang rape-and-murder case of 2011-2012.

"I resigned on my own and not under pressure. I am a true worker of BJD. As I respect the chief minister, I do not want party face trouble for me,” Mr. Maharathy told reporters.

Though there was huge demand for removal of Maharathy, the state government was silent till the Prime Minister raised the issue.

While addressing a public meeting at Baripada on Saturday, Mr. Modi accused the Odisha government of not being serious about the welfare of women and girls and urged it to re-investigate the Pipili gang rape-and-murder case.

"This (state) government failed to give justice to a girl in an incident that took place 7 to 8 years ago in Puri district. It is natural that women and girls are angry over laxity in investigation into the case for which the victim has been denied justice," Modi said at the BJP rally.

Reacting to Mr.Modi's remarks on the Pipili rape-and-murder case, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had said, "We are following the case vigorously."

After Maharathy’s resignation, Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan demanded apology from the chief minister Naveen Patnaik and handing over the case to CBI.

OPCC president Niranjan Patnaik said Maharathy should not give such remarks. His statement indicated otherwise in support of the accused instead of the victims.

Victim’s mother said: “Maharathy’s resignation will not give justice to my daughter. The culprit should be hanged to death. Then only my daughter will get justice.”

Vitim’s brother also demanded a CBI probe into the matter.

A 19-year-old Dalit girl was raped in November, 2011 and died in June, 2012 after remaining in a semi-comatose state, sparking a state-wide furore. It was alleged that the accused in the case had been sheltered by Maharathy.

On December 24, 2018, the court of additional district judge in Bhubaneswar had acquitted the two persons arrested in the case.

Reacting to the court judgement, Maharathy had said, "I welcome the court judgement. It is victory of truth. The victim girl got justice."

Maharathy ahad also tendered aplogy for his remarks on December 28, but this failed to pacify opposition parties and the victim’s family.

Maharathy's statement had angered opposition political parties as well as the victim's family who had sought stringent action against the accused.

"How come the victim got justice when the accused persons are acquitted?" asked Odisha Mahila Congress president Sumitra Jena.

The women's wings of both the BJP and the Congress had launched an agitation demanding Maharathy's resignation.

BJP activists in all urban centres in the state held candlelight rally, demanding the resignation of Mr.Maharathy and handing over the case to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

Mr.Maharathy had to resign from the ministry then in the face of a state-wide hue and cry for allegedly sheltering the accused.

He again became a minister after the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) returned to power in 2014.  

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