TNN | Aug 11, 2013, 0

BHUBANESWAR: The death of Kendrapada rape-burn victim has once again exposed the deteriorating law and order situation in the state even as the state government boasts of women’s empowerment and launches schemes to woo women voters.A series of crimes has shocked the state in recent times: the Paikamal gang-rape case, thesensational Pipili gang-rape, the murder of a dalit woman in Kujang area of Jagatsinghpur, the rape and murder of a visually-challenged schoolgirl in Puri and the mysterious death of a woman ayurvedic doctor in Puri. Such crimes have raised doubts about the efficacy of the ruling party in creating a safe ambience for the fair sex in Odisha.

A close look at the disturbing incidents would reflect one commonality——–the ruling party’s alleged efforts to cover them up and the alleged involvement of some of its leaders in the crimes.

While the Opposition is baying for the BJD government’s blood for its alleged failure to provide the best healthcare to the Kendrapada victim, two BJD legislators had to lose their ministries for trying to “hush up” the 2008 Paikamal and 2011 Pipili gang-rape incidents. Padampur MLA Bijay Ranjan Singh Bariha had to resign from his post for “shielding” the accused in the gang-rape of a woman in Primal block. Similarly, Pipili MLA Pradeep Maharathy was dethroned from the ministry for trying to protect the accused in the Pipili incident. Both of them earlier pleaded innocence and rubbished the allegations.

Recently, the BJD MLA from Brahmagiri, Sanjay Dasburma, was embroiled in a controversy over the harassment of a woman ayurvedic doctor, Madhabilata Pradhan, whose body was found on the track near the Puri railway station on October 27 last year. While Crime Branch is still probing the circumstances leading to her death, the Opposition Congress has been demanding Dasburma’s resignation. Dasburma, however, refuted the charges.

“Anti-socials have little fear of the police. Major crimes reflect the brutality and the inhumanity of the accused,” said Sanjukta Mohanty, a social activist. “The spontaneous public anger and protests on the streets indicate the government’s failure to control crime in the state,” Mohanty said.

“The police not only attempted to hush up the Pipili case, some doctors at Capital and SCB hospitals also neglected her,” Mohanty said. The victim was allegedly raped and strangulated on November 29, 2011. She succumbed to her injuries on June 21, 2012, after remaining in a semi-coma state for nearly six months at SCB in Cuttack.

The rape and murder of the blind Standard IV student at Beldala near Puri on June 5 this year brought more embarrassment for the government. Like the infamous Delhi gang-rape incident, the accused, a taxi driver, raped her and killed her by inserting an iron rod in her private parts.

The national crime records bureau said 1,458 rapes were reported in Odisha in 2012 as against 1,112 in 2011 and 1,025 in 2010. It ranked Odisha 7th among 28 states in the country as witnessing rising rape cases.

OPCC president Jayadev Jena said the law and order situation plunged to a new low during the tenure of Naveen Patnaik. “The state dangerously turned unsafe during Naveen’s regime. Being the head of home department, he should step down on moral grounds,” said Jena.

The BJD said the government is committed to maintaining law and order in the state. “The government never tried to protect any criminal. The police are taking action against the guilty,” said BJD legislator Sipra Mallick.



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