Vikash Sharma

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Friday broke his protracted silence over the sensational lady teacher Mamita Meher murder case by terming the incident as ‘sad and unfortunate’.

In a statement to the Odisha Assembly, the Chief Minister said, “The death of Mamita Meher was very said and unfortunate incident and we all are deeply anguished and pained by this heinous crime. She was a young and bright daughter of Odisha, having a brilliant future. The Government will ensure that no stone is left unturned to see that the perpetrators of the crime are brought to justice as per law in the shortest possible time.”

The Chief Minister also condemned the way this sensitive and heinous crime has been politicised. “While dealing with such sensitive cases, we must never forget the pain and agony the family members of the victim go through. Things went to such an extent that the parents of the victim had to request with folded hands not to do character assignation of their daughter and politicise her death. Despite their emotional appeal, the politicisation of this issue sadly continues,” Naveen’s statement read.

Reiterating his commitment towards justice for all, especially women and vulnerable sections, the Chief Minister said, “We will move the competent court for fast track trial so that the perpetrators of the crime are brought to justice in the quickest possible time.”

The CM’s statement to the House assumes significance in the backdrop of the pandemonium created by the Opposition parties during the on-going winter session of the State Assembly over demands of expulsion of the Minister of State (Home) Dibya Shankar Mishra whose complicity in the murder has been alleged.

The Opposition has been disrupting the House proceedings seeking a discussion on the Mamita Meher murder case. It is pertinent to mention here that the Odisha government had earlier written to the Orissa High Court to appoint a sitting or retired judge of the High Court or District & Sessions Judge to monitor the investigation of the case. Subsequently, the High Court has appointed a retired District Judge to monitor the investigation of the case.

“Now the entire police investigation will be subjected to judicial scrutiny, we should respect and have faith in our independent judiciary. I have always ensured that the police have full functional autonomy; that they do a professional job particularly in heinous offences relating to women; and take legal action without fear or favour against anybody, if there is evidence, no matter how high and mighty he is,” the statement read.

The CM also reposed his faith in the police investigation into the murder of the lady teacher. “Wherever there has been delinquency or negligence, stringent and exemplary action has been taken against erring police officers. In the past, there have been such sensitive cases against women. These cases were later either investigated by CBI, or were subject to High Court scrutiny or judicial inquiry. In no case were the state agencies found to be lacking in professionalism,” said CM.

Patnaik expressed his dissatisfaction over the attempts being made to prevent ‘members of the House’ from discharging duties.

“The Indian Constitution has given crucial responsibility to the Legislature and its Members enjoy certain safeguards and privileges for helping them discharge their duties without fear, intimidation and pressure. It will be a travesty if the members of the House are not allowed to discharge their constitutional duties. This is also setting a wrong precedent and such attempts can be misused anytime,” the CM’s statement added.

In view of the looming cyclone threat and the Covid crisis, the Chief Minister appealed the Opposition members to cooperate in the smooth functioning of the House.

“We have issues of farmers, non-lifting of paddy by FCI, stopping of rural housing in KBK and tribal districts, sharp cut in Central funds for the State, doubling of LPG, price rise and other issues affecting the common man,” the CM’s statement added.