Suspended official arrested in teacher burning case

Bhubaneswar: Odisha police today arrested a suspended sub-inspector of schools, the prime suspect in a case of burning and injuring a woman in Rayagada district, whose condition remained critical, officials said.

The woman, Itishree Pradhan (36), by profession a teacher, was allegedly set on fire by a man hired by Netranand Dandsena, the sub-inspector of schools, as she refused to withdraw a case of molestation against him.

The incident took place at Tikiri Upper Primary School in Rayagada district on Sunday night.

Pradhan, who sustained about 90 per burns, had been put in ventilator in a private hospital in Andhra Pradesh.

"She is struggling for survival. We have made all attempts to save her," Rayagada district collector Dr S B Padhi said.

Dandsena has been arrested from Seshakhal on Odisha Andhra Pradesh border this evening, Rayagada SDPO Y. Jagannath Rao said.

Dandsena was on the run after Pradhan lodged an FIR against him in July accusing him of sexually harassing her.

Though Pradhan said the man who poured kerosene and set her on fire was someone else, police suspected that the incident was engineered by Dandsena as he had been putting pressure on the teacher to withdraw the case against him.

Meanwhile, the school and mass education department has constituted a committee to probe the incidents leading to burning of Pradhan.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had announced that the state government would bear all the cost of treatment.

Demanding justice to the victim, around 200 teachers under the banner of Rayagada Zilla Shiksha Sahayak Sangh submitted a memorandum to chief minister through district collector Sashibhusan Padhi.

Since she joined the school on July 18, 2011, Itishree was allegedly subjected to sexual harassment by Dandasena who was then the headmaster of the school.

She had filed a complaint against him with the police and later approached the Deputy Inspector Schools, the district collector and the SP and even wrote to the School and Mass Education minister, but none came to her rescue, her relatives alleged.