Bhubaneswar: Pipli MLA and Agriculture minister Pradeep Maharathy once again came under fire for making “irresponsible comments” on judgment in the sensitive Pipli gangrape case.
Maharathy, who was forced to step down earlier from the council of ministers for his alleged involvement in the incident was reported, comes under attack by the Opposition Congress and BJP.
A Bhubaneswar court Monday acquitted the two accused siblings in connection with the case. Maharathy had hailed the court order and said, “My sympathies are with the victim, but I honour the court verdict. I had then said that the truth will prevail. The verdict has separated milk from water.”
Denouncing Maharathy’s comments, the Congress and BJP activists demanded immediate removal of Maharathy from the state Cabinet. BJP also demanded a CBI probe into the incident.
Senior BJP leader and Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said “He (Maharathy) is saying that the verdict gave justice to the victim. But I would say this statement exposes his ego and contempt for natural justice. This is condemnable and shows the flawed policies of the state government for women and the Scheduled Caste people.”
BJP leader Aparajita Sarangi termed Maharathy’s comment on the incident as “unfortunate and saddening”.
“It’s surprising that a minister in Naveen Patnaik government, which vouches for 33 per cent reservation of women in the state assemblies and Parliament, could make such comments,” she said.
“The statement of the minister, who holds a constitutional portfolio, speaks volumes on the anti-woman attitude of the BJD government. We want his immediate dismissal from the Cabinet and an unconditional apology from him. If our demand for his ouster is not conceded, we will intensify our agitation,” said Pradesh Mahila Congress president Sumitra Jena
The BJP has threatened to take the issue to the streets if Maharathy is not removed from the cabinet in the next 24 hours.
Mahila Congress activists, meanwhile, hurled tomatoes and eggs at the residence of Maharathy while the BJP women members took out a candle light procession at the Lower PMG here.
Police arrested 40 protesters belonging to Odisha Pradesh Mahila Congress on charge of hurling tomatoes and eggs at the official residence of the Agriculture Minister.
“About 40 women Congress activists were arrested as a preventive measure as they assembled before the minister’s house and tried to barge into his compound,’’ said Bhubaneswar Additional Commissioner of Police Sanjay Singh.
Meanwhile, ADG Santosh Upadhaya said, “The court judgment extends up to 1,000 pages. The court has admitted that the girl was murdered. We will move higher courts against the acquittal of the prime accused.”
The 19-year-old victim of rape was found unconscious and semi-naked in a paddy field November 28, 2011. She succumbed to her bleeding injuries June 21, 2012 after remaining semi-comatose in SCB Medical College and Hospital in Cuttack.