Itishree verdict hailed, but questions raised on ‘others’

Bhubaneswar: While the verdict of the District and Sessions Judge Court of Rayagada, which on Monday awarded life imprisonment to former School Inspector Netrananda Dandasena in the mysterious death of Itishree Pradhan, a lady teacher of Tikiri Upper Primary School, has been widely welcomed across Odisha, there have been mixed reactions to the verdict in political circles, particularly the opposition parties.

Congress chief whip Tara Prasad Bahinipati, while welcoming the verdict of the court, said the state government and the ruling party leaders, which had placed Dandasena in different posts, are responsible for the death of Itishree. “Why did the CBI not grill them? From this, it is clearly evident that the CBI has given a clean chit to these leaders on the basis of the charge sheet framed by the State Crime Branch,,” he said.

While welcoming the verdict of the court, BJP MLA Rabi Narayan Naik said investigation should also be conducted to find out the political leaders and government officials who had precipitated the incident. “The investigation would be complete only when the CBI finds out these persons,” he added.

BJP leader Pradip Purohit also welcomed the verdict but hoped that the court will also convict others involved in the case. “If these people get the punishment, there will be discipline in society,” he added.

In his statement, former Congress MP Pradip Majhi said the verdict of the court has provided some relief to the people of the state.

But he said there has been no detailed investigation to find out the exact cause of the murder of Itishree. Had the then district and police officials and the chief minister taken up the complaints of the hapless lady teacher seriously, it would have been easier to know the persons who were harassing her.

“The time has come to seriously think about a change in the present judicial system. By awarding life term to Dandasena, Itishree will not get the justice. I hope that the court will take adequate steps to bring a change in our judiciary,” Majhi said.

Talking about the verdict of the court, BJP leader Lekhashri Samantray said while the court has given the right punishment to Dandasena, no action had been taken against other influential persons who are behind the incident.

“It cannot be the job of a one person; it is obvious that there are other persons involved in this incident. Itishree too had said so in her dying statement. The CBI should probe into this angle and trace them out,” she said.

She also said the district administration and the chief minister were aware of the trauma of Itishree who had requested them to provide protection to her. Even she had written a letter to the chief minister stating that he would be responsible for her death.

“Taking all these into consideration, I would say by giving punishment to Dandasena and closing the case would be grossly unjust as this would put a question mark on the mode of investigation.

Former Koraput MP Jayaram Pangi said he welcomed the verdict of the court as per the charge sheet of the State Crime Branch. “I have watched the news channel; Itishree has not mentioned my name. As per law, a person, whoever he or she may be, deserves punishment if found guilty,” he pointed out.

Notably, in her dying statement to the police, Itishree had mentioned the name of Pangi among others who had been harassing her mentally and physically.

BJD spokesperson Sashi Bhusan Behera said the people of Odisha, the state government and his party respect the verdict of the court.

Asked about the political links in the murder of Itishree by the opposition political parties, he said he does not want to say anything on this. “Whatever be the opinion of the opposition in this matter, it is not proper to link the verdict of the court to their way of thinking,” he pointed out.

“We had wanted the accused be given harsh punishment and we welcome the verdict of the District and Sessions Judge, who awarded life imprisonment to the accused,” BJD spokesperson Pratap Jena said.

Former DGP Gopal Nanda said the investigation into the Itishree murder case has been successful and the court has given right punishment to Dandasena, who had committed the heinous crime.

“I was expecting that the CBI would frame the charge sheet against Dandasena after its investigation, which it has successfully conducted,” he added.

To a question on whether action should have been taken against others whose name Itishree had mentioned in her dying statement, Nanda said may be what Itishree had told is true. But for a person to be convicted, evidence is required which can be proved in the court. Besides, the witnesses should also support the evidence.

“I don’t want to blame the CBI for not bringing other persons mentioned by Itishree in her dying statement, under the purview of its investigation. I feel that the Central investigating agency might not have the proper evidence as the witnesses have not provided the correct information,” Nanda observed.

Welcoming the judgment of the court, social activist Rutupurna Mohanty said it was the most awaited judgement. With this, people’s faith on the judiciary had been strengthened.

She further said as per the dying statement of Itishree, there were other people, including a former MP, who had sexually tortured her and forced her to indulge in sexual activities. “The name of these people should be brought under the purview of investigation,” she pointed out.

Mohanty also said she feels there has been no proper interrogation of Dandasena. “The way the police is getting vital information in the Dhalasamant case through a series of interrogations, it should have interrogated Dandasena properly to get more information on the involvement of those whose name Itishree had mentioned in her dying statement,” she observed.