Bhubaneswar, Jan 16 (IANS) Displaying rare unity, opposition parties in Odisha Monday joined a massive rally here to demand justice for a gang rape victim.
The leaders and activists of main opposition Congress, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Left parties and other non-ruling parties participated in the protest march organized by the Odisha Gana Samaj in state capital Bhubaneswar.
The rally was joined by thousands of people from a cross-section of society, including journalists, lawyers, and activists of different civil society organizations.
The protestors burned effigies of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and Agriculture Minister Pradeep Maharathy and shouted slogans against them for their failure to provide justice to a 19-year-old who was allegedly gangraped in Pipili area of Puri district in November last year and is in a state of coma.
The protesters said it was unfortunate that the government acted only after a public outcry and when the media brought the matter to light early this month. They held a demonstration near the official residence of Governor M.C. Bhandare.
“We joined hands to increase pressure on the government. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and Agriculture Minister Pradeep Maharathy must resign. We want a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI),” Jual Oram, state unit president of BJP who participated in the march, told IANS.
The 19-year-old was allegedly gangraped Nov 28 last year by some people near her village Arjunagoda, about 10 km from state capital Bhubaneswar. She is admitted in a hospital in Cuttack, 26 km from here, in a state of coma after the assault.
Her family alleges that the accused were the same people who had assaulted her in 2008 and against whom she had put up a determined fight in court in a molestation case.
The matter came to light recently when the victim was allegedly denied proper treatment at a hospital and some media persons reported the matter after meeting her family members.
After a public outcry and following the interventions of the Odisha High Court, the state Human Rights Commission and State Women’s Commission, the authorities last week ordered a judicial probe into the incident.
The one-man commission comprising retired justice of Odisha High Court P.K. Mohanty was appointed to probe and submit a report to the government within three months. The opposition parties allege the government set up the commission only to delay the matter.
Police have registered a case against four accused people and so far arrested only two of them. While one was arrested Monday, another was arrested a day earlier.