Opposition leader on dharna in Odisha Assembly, demands CM`s reply

Leader of Opposition in Odisha Assembly Bhupinder Singh launched dharna in well of the House till a reply from Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on the issue of burning to death of a woman teacher.

PTI| Updated: Dec 08, 2013, 00:51 AM IST

Bhubaneswar: In an unprecedented move, Leader of Opposition in Odisha Assembly Bhupinder Singh on Saturday launched a dharna in the well of the House till a reply from Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on the issue of burning to death of a woman teacher.
"I will continue the dharna in the well till the Chief Minister gives reply on the adjournment motion on the killing of the woman teacher in Rayagada," he said after the House was adjourned till Monday in wake of his dharna.

Accusing Patnaik of avoiding a debate over the teacher`s killing, Singh said, "The Speaker earlier in the day had accepted an adjournment motion notice of Opposition. However, the House was adjourned till 3 pm in view of the pandemonium by members of the treasury bench."

The treasury bench deliberately disrupted the House in order to give an opportunity to avoid a debate on the issue, he alleged.

"Though the chief minister often claimed that his government was ready to face the opposition in the House, he himself ran away from debate on lady teacher issue," Singh said.

"Why are you (CM) so afraid of a debate? Will the government collapse if the House discusses on the teacher`s murder case," he asked.

The issue was raised when the House re-assembled at 3 pm. Singh was on his feet annoyed over the manner in which Speaker Pradip Kumar Amat adjourned the House till 3 pm.

"The Speaker could have adjourned the House till 12 noon if it was not in order during the zero hour. Instead of running the House, Speaker adjourned it till afternoon," he said demanding a ruling from the Speaker that Chief Minister will reply the debate on the issue on Monday.

Though Amat in his ruling said the House will debate the issue, Singh refused to end his dharna.

Congress chief whip Prasad Harichandan also apprehended that the chief minister may try to avoid replying on Monday when Finance Commission would be on a visit.

Refuting opposition charge, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kalpataru Das claimed that the chief minister was not afraid of giving reply on any matter including the teacher killing case. "I appeal to the leader of the opposition to call off his dharna and maintain dignity of the post he is holding," Das said.

As Singh sat on the reporters table, his party colleagues rushed to the well and shouted slogans holding the state government responsible for the killing of the woman.

The teacher of Upper primary School at Tikiri was burnt to death by an unknown person allegedly for refusing to withdraw a molestation case against her senior.

Though she had informed all including the chief minister, about threat to her life, none came to her rescue. Finally, she was killed.

The incident is being investigated by the Crime Branch of Odisha Police, which has so far arrested Netrananda Dandasena, the dismissed sub-inspector of schools in Rayagada district.

The state government has also dismissed four persons including two police personnel on charge of dereliction in duty.