Odisha rape case: Activists, parties protest

The head of the Odisha women`s commission has come in for criticism over the panel`s report on an alleged gang rape victim.

Bhubaneswar: The head of the Odisha women`s commission has come in for criticism over the panel`s report on an alleged gang rape victim with opposition parties and activists Tuesday demanding her resignation.

A delegation comprising leaders of five political parties, including Communist Party of India (CPI), Communist party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) and Samajwadi party Tuesday submitted a memorandum to Governor MC Bhandare demanding the resignation of commission chairperson Jyoti Panigrahi.

The women`s wings of both opposition Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) staged protests separately and activists burnt copies of the commission report submitted to the government.

Panigrahi drew the ire of opposition and social activists after the panel report stated that it was wrong to describe the 19-year-old who is in coma as a victim of rape without any credible evidence.

"I verified the complaints lodged with the police by the family members (of the victim). I also examined the medical examination reports. There was no mention of any rape," Panigrahi told reporters.

Opposition parties and activists have slammed her saying the commission chairperson has tried to favour her political masters.

"The victim`s mother had on camera said her daughter was gang raped," Sukeshi Oram, former member of National Commission for Women and a BJP leader, told IANS.

"Other family members of the victim have also said police did not register their complaints. We are surprised how the commission chairperson can dismiss those facts," she said.

Oram said a team led by her also submitted a memorandum to the governor seeking removal of the chairperson as she "has abused her official position".

The 19-year-old victim has been in a state of coma after she was allegedly gangraped Nov 28 by some people near her village Arjunagoda, barely 10 km from this capital city.

Her family alleged the rapists 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.

Although she was admitted to a local hospital Nov 29, and subsequently shifted to other hospitals, the shocking incident came to light only recently when the girl was denied proper treatment and some journalists reported about the incident.

The alleged gang rape has created a political storm, prompting Agriculture Minister Pradeep Maharathy to resign Jan 19 on moral grounds after the opposition and the girl`s family alleged he was protecting her attackers.

The state commission for women in its report to the government 31 Jan blamed the doctors but spared police and ruling party politicians.

"(If) proper steps in due time had been taken by the physicians of different hospitals, the health condition of the victim would not have deteriorated," commission chairperson Panigrahi had observed in her report.