A day after the death of the 14-year-old girl who had said that she was raped by “four men in uniform” in October last year, the Odisha government on Tuesday faced heat both from within the ruling BJD and opposition parties.
In a column that appeared in a local newspaper, Tathagata Satpathy, BJD Lok Sabha MP from Dhenkanal, blasted police personnel and doctors investigating the claims of the victim, while opposition Congress and BJP issued a call for bandh on Wednesday.
The teen allegedly committed suicide at her home, in Musaguda village of Odisha’s Koraput district, on Monday afternoon.
The girl had alleged that she was raped by four men in uniform in Kunduli, in Koraput district, on October 10 last year when she was returning home. She had subsequently accused Odisha DGP R P Sharma of trying to bribe her to influence the investigation into the rape. Sharma had denied the accusation.
In its report to the state Human Rights Commission, the human rights protection cell of Odisha Police had claimed that the girl was not raped.
In his column in Dharitri newspaper on Tuesday, Satpathy accused the police and doctors who investigated her case of “trying to hide the incident by their silence”, and that the “police and doctors must be celebrating today”.
He wrote, “22 January 2018 will be remembered as a black day for Odisha police. Today’s suicide proves both the version of Odisha police as well as the doctors’ report are complete falsehoods.”
Responding to the column, BJD spokesperson Sasmit Patra said, “A judicial probe is on. Justice will be done.”
In Bhubaneswar, BJP workers tried to picket Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s residence, demanding a CBI probe into the victim’s death. They reportedly engaged in a brief clash with the police, leading to a lathi-charge.
Members of the Congress’s women wing also staged a demonstration and attempted to enter the CM’s residence, PTI reported. State Congress president Prasad Harichandan, who joined demonstrators in Kunduli, said the state government is “solely responsible” for the tragedy, according to PTI.
Demanding a CBI probe, Union Tribal Affairs Minister and senior BJP leader Jual Oram alleged that the girl was denied justice.
Odisha’s Women and Child Development Minister Prafulla Samal said, “We feel the department has some responsibility. Our officers will probe into the cause of her death.”
Several top police officers, both serving and retired, told The Indian Express that the police handled the matter “poorly”.
A retired high-ranking officer lamented the lack of victim-support system within the Indian police. “In a case where the rape victim also alleges police bias, we should have a credibility analysis protocol. State police should be provided with forensic psychologists who can help us understand what the victim is trying to say. But there is no such support.”— With PTI inputs