Congress dubs Odisha as “sanctuary” of criminals

Bhubaneswar: Dubbing Odisha as a "sanctuary" of criminals in view of the abnormal rise in crimes against women in the state, opposition Congress on Tuesday walked out of the assembly even as Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik claimed adequate steps were taken for the protection of women.

The issue relating to crimes against women was discussed in the assembly through an adjournment motion where Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik claimed that the government has set up 16 fast track courts for trail of cases relating to offence against women. More such courts will also be set up soon, he said.

Patnaik said the state government has been strengthening 'Mahila-Sisu' desk in all the 537 police stations across the state.

"This apart, the state government has also introduced Victim Compensation Scheme to provide financial assistance to rape victims," the chief minister said.

In case of rape and murder incident at Gandia in Dhenkanal district which took place on the night of March 12, Patnaik said two persons were so far arrested.

However, the opposition Congress ridiculed the state government and pointed out that crime against women, particularly rape cases have increased in the state. "While the number of rape cases in 2011 was 1,112, it increased to 1,458 in 2012," said Congress Chief Whip Prasad Harichandan.

Justifying his party's claim that Odisha has turned into a "sanctuary" of criminals, Harichandan pointed out that the rate of conviction was very low in Odisha in comparison to other states. He also alleged that the atrocities on dalits have increased manifold.

"Of 11,410 crimes against dalits in three years comprising 2009, 2010 and 2011, Harichandan said: "conviction has been made only in nine cases so far".

As the criminals go scot free, the rate of crimes increases in the state, he pointed out.

Senior Congress leader S S Saluja, however, said that appointment of government advocates on political consideration is the reason behind high rate of acquittal in the state.

Leader of opposition Bhupinder Singh of Congress pointed out how 115 cases of child rape have been registered during a span of only two months in 2013.

"In case of Gandia rape and murder case, we blame the local police as the victim was kidnapped in the same day and rescued by the villagers. She was later in the night raped and set on fire by criminals," Singh said adding that had the police taken prompt action, the life of the girl could have been saved.

The treasury bench members, however, defended the government by blaming it on the liberal economy. "The crimes including rapes are on rise everywhere in the country due to liberalised economy. Odisha is not an exception," said government chief whip Pravat Tripathy.

Local BJD MLA Nabin Nanda, however, said the police arrested one of the two accused persons before the family members of the victim filed FIR at Gandia police station.