Raped Dalit woman struggles for justice in Orissa

June 11th, 2009 - 1:01 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party Bhubaneswar, June 11 (IANS) A month after a Dalit woman in Orissa was allegedly gang raped by four men, including a former leader of the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD), the police have arrested only one of the accused. Opposition parties claim that a minister is shielding them and are demanding a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
A 24-year-old woman has accused politician Mahesh Agarwal and three other men of having raped her at Paikmal in Bargarh district, about 350 km from here, May 10.

The woman, who is undergoing treatment in a local hospital, has alleged that police are deliberately not taking action against the accused.

“Police are not arresting the culprits. A police official was even rude with me,” the rape victim told a team of social and political activists who met her this week.

In a recorded video distributed to journalists here Thursday by the activists, the victim was shown narrating her trauma in a choking voice.

According to the police, the woman had gone to the block office to enquire about a government job. Agarwal and his associates promised to help her and took her to a godown, where they allegedly raped her.

She was rescued by the police who reached there following a tip-off. The girl’s medical examination has confirmed that she was raped.

After being accused of rape, Agarwal was suspended from the BJD. Police said they did not arrest him because he had obtained anticipatory bail.

However, the crime branch arrested Gunanidhi Nag, one of the rape accused, from Raipur in neighbouring Chhatisgarh Tuesday after a series of protest by local residents.

“The other accused are still free. Police are deliberately not arresting them,” Surama Padhi, a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader who met the victim, told reporters.

A minister, who is said to be close to Agarwal, has been accused of pressurising the police to not take action.

“Bijay Ranjan Singh Beriha (the minister for welfare of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes) is protecting the accused men and is pressurising police not to arrest them,” alleged Congress women’s wing state president Asima Mahananda.

“We want resignation of the minister. The government should order a CBI probe. If that does not happen, the Congress will launch a state wide agitation,” she warned.

Denying the allegations, Beriha said: “I am not protecting anybody. The law will take its own course.”

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