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Saswat Singhdeo

Bhubaneswar: Alleging rise in number of minor girl rape cases across Odisha, Opposition parties BJP and Congress took to streets today and have threatened to intensify their agitation.

A team of BJP workers led by party’s general secretary Lekhashree Samantsinghar staged protest at Master Canteen Chhak in Bhubaneswar today raising slogans against the State government over rising cases of minor girl rape and harassment against women.

“Rising incidents of rape have now become a part of the dark chapter of Odisha. Naveen babu should resign immediately,” said Samantsinghar.

“It is time for Naveen Babu to take stringent action against the accused and put strong security arrangements in place. If he doesn’t do that, he will face the ire of people,” said Congress’ Jatni MLA, Sura Routray.

Similarly, a 12-hour bandh was called by BJP in Angul protesting incidents of eyes being gouged out of dead bodies in hospitals and minor girl rape cases.

On the other hand, in the State Assembly today, Leader of Opposition (LoP), Pradipta Naik alleged that State government’s response on rape cases is unsatisfactory and police officials have become supporters of the ruling-BJD politicians.

“I suspect the girls are used in illegal flesh trade and boys in the human organ trade," alleged LoP, Pradipta Naik.

Earlier the Opposition parties staged a walkout in the Assembly protesting Minister Bikram Arukha's reply on the issue. During a discussion on adjournment motion on rising minor girl rape cases, Arukha informed the House that rape cases in the State declined in 2019.

“Till May 2019, 937 rape cases were registered while during the same period in 2018, 996 cases were registered. There was a decline of 5.9% in comparison to last year,” informed Arukha.

The Minister also said that action has been taken in Bhawanipatna and Angul minor girl rape cases.

Arukha also rejected Congress Legislature Party leader Narasingha Mishra's allegation that only six persons are convicted for rape in a year, while seven women are raped in Odisha every day.

"The conviction rate in rape cases in 2018 was 18.35 per cent against 2017's figure of 16.92 per cent. Police have taken necessary action in cases involving sexual assault of minors," the minister told the House.

In response, Congress leader Narasingha Mishra said,” What is the meaning of saying that rape incidents have come down by 5.9 per cent in a year, when the Supreme Court clearly mentioned that 1,005 minor girls have been raped in Odisha between January and June this year?"

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