Notwithstanding Pradip Maharathy’s resignation from the cabinet following the storm over the Pipili gang-rape incident, social organizations and political parties said they would continue with their “save women” agitation.
They said Maharathy quitting as the agriculture minister was an “eyewash” and demanded chief minister Naveen Patnaik to resign owning moral responsibility for all that happened to the 19-year-old Dalit girl, who is now battling for her life at SCB Medical College and Hospital in Cuttack.
“Maharathy’s resignation cannot right the wrongs. The moral responsibility lies with the chief minister, who is the head of the government and holds the home department as well. He owes an explanation to the people first, after which let him decide whether or not to continue in office,” Rabi Das and Prasant Patnaik, conveners of Odisha Gana Samaj (OGS), told media persons here on Thursday. The nascent social organization was instrumental in uniting people from all sections, including politicians, to launch a protest against the “continuing atrocities” on women in Odisha. “The Pipili incident reflects the complete collapse of rule of law in Odisha. Individuals and government agencies vested with constitutional power have failed to perform their duties,” Das alleged.
The OGS demanded a CBI probe into the Pipili incident and rejected the judicial inquiry announced by the government. “The crime committed on the Dalit girl was preceded by another incident against her friend in 2008. Both the cases cannot be ignored as another incident of rape or suicide. An independent probe can dig out the people who tried to suppress the crimes,” Das said.
The organization’s other demands included registration of cases against the accused persons including the abettors under SC, ST prevention of atrocities Act, security for the victim girl’s family, trial of all rape and gang rape cases in fast track court, financial help and rehabilitation of rape victims and adequate financial compensation by the government to the families of those who succumbed to rapes.
The OGS announced to hold rallies in Berhampur, Cuttack and Sambalpur on January 21, 24 and 27 respectively. It also gave a call for statewide agitation on January 30 and appealed people to hold dharna and satyagraha in their respective places before statues of Mahatma Gandhi or his photographs.
Post-Maharathy resignation political parties, which came to the streets shocked by the Pipili incident, also showed no mercy to the government. The two major opposition parties, Congress and BJP, said they would continue their agitation till chief minister Naveen Patnaik resigned from his post. “The chief minister has purposely made Maharathy a scapegoat ostensibly to protect himself. He being the chief minister of the state and home minister is morally guilty. That he is not able to run the state forcing it to continuously slide down is evident from the worsening law and order situation. The mounting incidents of rapes and other forms of crimes prove that women are not safe under the present regime,” said PCC president Niranjan Patnaik. He demanded CBI probe into the Pipili incident.
BJP president Jual Oram said: “The agitation will continue against the chief minister, because he is morally responsible for the Pipili incident and the burgeoning incidents of crimes in the state”. “Pradip Maharathy is no issue. His resignation cannot expectedly satisfy the public, because what happened in Pipili is only a tip of the iceberg. Every day women are subjected to all kinds of cruelties and the police department functioning under the chief minister does nothing,” Oram said reiterating his party’s demand for CBI probe into the Pipili case.
Meanwhile, reports reaching here said Congress workers continued their agitation at several places in the state on the Pipili issue. In Bhubaneswar NSUI, the student wing of Congress, organised a mass rally of college girls demanding CBI probe into the Pipili incident, arrest of Pradip Maharathy and action against the Puri SP. The BJP also took out a rally of women demanding the resignation of chief minister on the issue.
Originally posted on Jan 19, 2012, 11.07 PM IST by Times of India