Odisha Minister for Housing & Urban Development, Law and Information Technology Raghunath Mohanty on Friday resigned from his post nearly 12 hours after his daughter-in-law Barsa Swony Choudhury lodged a dowry case against him and his family members.
Mohanty reached Naveen Nivas, the residence of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik at about 8.45 am and tendered his resignation following a dowry case against him. The CM is said to have accepted the resignation and forwarded it to the Governor.
On Thursday evening, Balasore Town police had registered a case against Raghunath Mohanty, his wife Pritilata Mohanty, son Raja Shree Mohanty, daughter Rupashree Madhual and son-in-law Suvendu Madhual, a paediatrician.
Soon after his resignation, the Minister rubbished the allegations leveled against him and his family members. He said the allegations brought against them were false and fabricated. “I have resigned on moral grounds and to cooperate the investigating agency. The law is for every one and it will take its own course,” Mohanty told reporters.
Mohanty, a five-time MLA from Basta constituency of coastal Balasore district, had been a Minister since April 2006 and held important portfolios including Panchayati Raj, Parliamentary Affairs, Industries, Mines, Law, Housing & Urban Development and IT.
Police sources said Barsa, daughter of Kishore Kumar Choudhury of Bhoisahi had married to Raja Shree Mohanty, son of Raghunath Mohanty of Amarda Road on June 24, 2012. She alleged she was subjected to both physical and mental torture by her husband, parents-in-law, sister-in-law and brother-in-law for dowry a few days after their marriage.
In the written complaint to the police, she claimed Rs 10 lakh was given to her in-laws as per their demand at the time of marriage. “But thereafter they demanded Rs 25 lakh cash and a Scorpio vehicle for election campaigning of my husband Raja Shree who in an aspirant for the next Assembly election. They even insisted me to ask my father to sale our properties to give them money. They started torturing me when my parents failed to meet their demand and I questioned his affairs with a few other girls,” Barsa, a BTech stated in the FIR.
Failing to bear the trauma, she said, she had left her in-law’s home. The matter though was settled after intervention of some relatives, they again ill-treated her and even didn’t provide her proper food, she alleged adding she had finally left home on February 25 when her in-laws threatened to kill her by pouring kerosene on her body.
Barsa said she was shocked by the attitude of her mother-in-law and sister-in-law and when she brought the matter to the notice of her father-in-law, he, instead of resolving the matter, advised her to obey them.
She alleged that there was an attempt to kidnap and kill her in her parental house on March 13. She survived as her uncle and neighbours reached at the home while some unknown people were terrorizing her. “Three unidentified persons entered into the house when I was alone and threatened me with dire consequences if I lodge any complaint with the police,” she claimed.
Following the FIR, a case under section 498A (Husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty), 506 (criminal intimidation), 448 (house-trespass), 34 (Acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) has been registered.
Police said they were verifying the charges and action would be taken as per the provisions in the law after thorough investigation. Meanwhile, the State government has transferred the case to the Human Rights Protection Cell (HRPC) for impartial inquiry. Several attempts to contact others accused persons however turned futile.