Teacher’s father rejects ex-gratia, demands death penalty for culprits

Bhubaneswar: Rejecting the Rs 10 lakh ex- gratia payment announced by Odisha government, father of the lady teacher who was allegedly burnt to death for not withdrawing a molestation case against her senior, on Wednesday demanded capital punishment for the culprits behind the "barbaric" act.
"I will never accept the ex-gratia from the state government. I have no faith in it. My daughter would have been alive today had police and the local administration acted promptly and arrested Dandsena (the prime accused and the victim's senior).
"The culprit was instead given protection both by police and the administration," said Balabhadra Pradhan, the nonagenarian father of the slain school teacher.
Alleging they had harassed his daughter for having raised her voice against sexual harassment, Pradhan, also a retired school teacher, said: "My daughter's soul will get peace only if the culprits are hanged." 
Balabhadra's 36-year-old daughter succumbed to burn injuries on November 1 after a miscreant set her on fire on the night of October 27.
Stating that his daughter had approached all, from the state commission for women and the human rights commission to the district collector, superintendent of police and the chief minister himself, Pradhan pointed out that none had come to her rescue when she was fighting alone.
"Now tell me whom a sexual harassment victim will approach in Odisha… My daughter had knocked on all doors before the miscreants set her ablaze," he said, breaking down.
Some of them even put pressure on her to withdraw the FIR against Dandsena instead of acting on her complaint, he added.
"They succeeded in setting her on fire as the prime accused was not arrested till October 30, although the FIR was lodged against him on July 18, 2013," said Bikram, the brother of the deceased teacher.
The victim's sister, Birajini, said that before her death she had told her that Dandsena had the protection of influential politicians.
"She had told me that Dandsena had also taken her photo while she was taking a bath. As she had lodged a complaint against him with police, she was threatened by some goons and some policemen who asked her to withdraw the case," Birajini said.
The deceased teacher's family members said they would fight until they got justice.
"Though she is no more, her ashes will fight for justice," Balabhadra said.