Maharathi in the docks over Pipli rape case

Bhubaneswar: As the dusts raised over the Pipli gang rape incident deny to settle down, the agriculture minister and Pipli MLA Pradeep Maharathi finds himself in an uncomfortable situation with more and more organisations including opposition parties resorting to demonstrations and road blockades in demand of his resignation from the cabinet though Maharathi continue to deny his links with the accuseds in the sensational case.

The BJP Mahila Morcha, the women wing of the BJP, today staged demonstration in the capital demanding the resignation of Pradeep Maharathi from the cabinet. The morcha demanded the government must provide the family members of the gang rape victim now under treatment in the SCB medical in Cuttack compensation to the tune of Rs 10 lakh and hand over the investigations to the CBI. Said BJP leader Archana Nayak,"The minister Pradeep Maharathi should step down and the probe should be handed over to the CBI."

Members and activists of the Adivasi Surakhya Parishad, an organisation for the tribals, too organised a protest meeting against the minister in Bhubaneswar and brought out a huge rally shouting slogans against the minister. Similarly, students of Pipli and members of the Chhatra Congress today blocked the national highway passing through the town to raise protest against the agriculture minister. The students burnt an effigy of the minister.

Amid protests agriculture minister Pradeep Maharathi continued to deny his links with the accuseds in the gang rape case. Terming the allegations as baseless and concocted to sully his image Maharathi today said that the truth must come out and if necessary he would resort to the legal course. On the other hand, the chief secretary today said that the chief minister has for a through probe of the incident and the home department has been asked to submit the report.

The brother of the gang rape victim had on Wednesday alleged that those involved in the heinous act were close to the agriculture minister Pradeep Maharathi. Opposition Congress and BJP alleged that the minister put pressure on the police not to take action against the accuseds in the rape case. The incident had taken place in November.

Meanwhile, the State Human Rights Commission had sought a report on the incident from the superintendent of police of Puri district within three weeks. The Puri SP has already submitted his report to the rights commission.