Daringbadi: Tension ran high in Daringbadi area of Kandhamal district after reports that a class-VIII girl delivered a baby at a residential school. Irate locals staged a demonstration and blocked NH-59 demanding probe and immediate arrest of the accused involved in the incident.

Vehicular traffic between Daringbadi and Berhampur and other parts of the district was adversly affected due to the road blockade agitation.

Later, SC and ST Development Minister Ramesh Majhi ordered Kandhamal Collector to conduct a probe under what circumstances the incident occured and submit a report at the earliest.

Preliminary probe reveals that the headmistress during interrogation admitted that a Class VIII girl student has delivered a baby.

“We demand immediate arrest of the headmistress of the residential school. The school will be locked until action is taken against the persons concerned. We will not withdraw our strike until the collector and SP visit the spot,” said an agitator.

Odisha Mahila Congress leader Sumitra Jena condemned the incident of schoolgirl delivering baby in Kandhamal and threatened stir if the matter is not investigated properly.

Meanwhile, SC & ST development minister Ramesh Majhi said, "We have taken the matter seriously and the Collector has been asked to submit a report. Further steps will be taken after getting the report. The government is concerned over the safety and security girl students and stern action will be taken against those found guilty."

In his reaction, local BJP leader Netra Manseth said the administration is trying to hush up the matter. “We want to know the truth. When tribal girls are not safe in girl’s hostel, why the government has established such residential schools?"

Demanding action against the headmistress and warden, a local BJD leader Saluga Pradhan said, “We demand the State government to launch an inquiry into the matter.”

The locals withdrew their strike after a youth was detained by the police in connection with incident. Sources said condition of both the minor girl and her baby is stable and they are undergoing treatment at Baliguda hospital.

Later in the day, 3 Assistant Superintendents were suspended, 1 health worker(ANM) and 2 matrons were dismissed. Kandhamal Collector wrote a letter to Odisha government recommending action against headmistress and directed the sub-collector to conduct probe & submit report within 10 days.

Commenting on the matter, Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan tweeted, "It is a matter of great concern as the school authorities have remained silent over the incident. Violence against women have agonized people; what does the CM, who talks about women security, has to say now."

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