Devbrat Patnaik

Bhubaneswar: A day after Odisha Agriculture minister Pradeep Maharathy expressed regrets over his statements hailing the acquittal of accused persons in the Pipili gang rape and murder case, Mahila Congress once again came down heavily on the Minister stating that his apology was a fake one and he has no regrets whatsoever.

On Thursday, when the activists of the opposition Congress and BJP sought a CBI probe into the rape and demanded Maharathy's resignation, the minister apologised saying, “I express regret if my statements have hurt anybody. I have no intention to hurt anyone. I am an open minded person.”

However, Pradesh Mahila Congress president Sumitra Jena said that this apology was a sponsored one and the party will continue its agitation until Maharathy resigns from his post."He tendered an apology but his opinion on the verdict hasn't changed. We will continue agitation till the minister is expelled from the ministry."

Congress women activists on Thursday had staged a demonstration outside the Agriculture minister’s official quarters in Bhubaneswar and hurled eggs and tomatoes at his house. A few activists were also taken into preventive custody following a scuffle with police.

The Odisha unit of BJP had also given an ultimatum to the State government, saying that the party will hit the streets if minister Pradeep Maharathy is not dismissed from the Cabinet within 24 hours for his ‘insensitive’ comment on the incident.

It may be mentioned here that following the acquittal of two brothers accused in the 2011 incident due to lack of evidence, minister Maharathy on December 25 hailed the court’s verdict and said that truth finally prevailed. Maharathy had said: “I welcome the court judgement. It is victory of the truth. The victim girl got the justice.”

His statement irked the Opposition who held the ruling-BJD responsible for the alleged miserable and deteriorating condition of women and girl children in the State.

The victim, then a 19-year-old girl from Arjungoda of Pipili in Puri district, went into coma after being allegedly gang raped on November 28, 2011. She was found unconscious and semi-naked in a paddy field in her village. After remaining in coma for over six months, the girl died at SCB hospital in Cuttack in June 2012.

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