Published On: Sat, Nov 2nd, 2013

Odisha teacher death: Government orders Crime Branch probe amid Opposition protests

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The death of a 28-year-old government school teacher in Odisha, who was set on fire allegedly over a case of sexual harassment, has sparked angry protests, prompting the state government to order a Crime Branch probe into the incident.

Itishree Pradhan was set ablaze by an unidentified man on the night of October 27 while she was watching television along with some children at a residential school in Tikiri in Rayagada district. Ms Pradhan, who suffered 90 per cent burns, died on Saturday at a hospital in Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh.

Cops claim that the teacher was set on fire after she refused to withdraw a complaint of sexual assault that she had filed in July against sub-inspector of schools, Netranand Dandsena.

A committee against sexual harassment at the work place, which probed the allegation, had found Dandsena guilty and recommended action against him. He was later suspended.

The accused, who had been absconding ever since the victim filed the police complaint, was finally arrested on October 30.

“We are protesting against the Government and specifically the Chief Minister who has got that this whole department under him. What was the police doing, what was the district collector doing,” said former Congress MP Vijaylaksmi Sahu.

While condemning the incident as barbaric and inhuman, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik also slammed the Congress-led Opposition for politicising the incident.

“Though crimes against women are on the rise in Odisha, the Government does not find any strong solution to these gruesome incidents that happen every alternate day in the state… Opposition parties also get the opportunity to raise their voices against crime on women to woo voters before elections,” Mr Patnaik said.

The government has ordered the suspension of the inspector in-charge of the local police station in Tikiri. The Chief Minister has also announced an ex-gratia of Rs.10 lakh for the next of the kin of the deceased.


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