Naveen terms burning of lady teacher ‘barbaric’

Bhubaneswar: With molestation victim lady teacher battling for survival at a hospital in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh after being set on fire in Odisha's Rayagada district, the state government today announced it would bear her treatment cost.

"The state government will bear the treatment cost of the lady teacher from the Chief Minister?s Relief Fund (CMRF)," Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said while terming the incident as "Barbaric" and "inhuman".

Expressing concern over the incident, Patnaik said stringent action will be taken against the culprit.

"An unknown miscreant on Sunday night set the lady teacher on fire after pouring kerosene on her. She has been rushed to a private hospital in Andhra Pradesh," Superintendent of Police (SP), Rayagada, Rajesh Pandit said adding the police have suspended M D Pradhan, a police ASI and investigating officer (IO) of Tikiri police station.

Pradhan was placed under suspension as he failed to arrest a sub-inspector (SI) of schools, Netrananda Dandasena, who allegedly molested the lady teacher earlier. "Though the case was lodged against Dandasena on July 18, 2013, he was not arrested by the IO so far," Pandit said adding a special police team is formed to nab the absconding school SI.

Itishree Pradhan (36), who hailed from Delang area in Puri district and was working in an Upper Primary school at Tikiri, was set on fire by an unknown man on Sunday night in the school hostel, Inspector In-Charge of Tikiri police station S K Sai said.

The police suspected hands of Dandsena behind the attempt to kill the lady teacher after making vain attempts to pressurise her to withdraw molestation case.

Meanwhile, chief district medical officer (CDMO), Rayagada, Dr K V S Choudhyry said: "The lady teacher has sustained about 90 per cent burn injury. The doctors are trying their best to save her."

Alleging police inaction teachers of Rayagada staged a demonstration at the district headquarters town demanding immediate arrest of Dandsena. The "barbaric" incident could have been avoided had police arrested Dandsena soon after the lady teacher lodged complaint against him, they said.

The teachers alleged that the local police allowed Dandasena to evade non-bailable warrant against him.

Meanwhile, BJP women's wing demanded that the district inspector of school and district magistrate be booked on criminal charges in the case.