BHUBANESWAR: In a major setback for the State Government, the Supreme Court has asked the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to probe the murder of Itishree Pradhan, a lady teacher in Rayagada district, and submit its report within two months.
Hearing a petition in this regard, the apex court has also asked the investigating agency to constitute a team within seven days to arrest the main accused. Confirming the Supreme Court directive, Minister of State for Law Arun Sahu said that the Crime Branch probe into the case will, however, continue.
Itishree, a school teacher at Tikiri in Rayagada district, was set on fire by unidentified persons on the night of October 27, 2013, for allegedly refusing to withdraw a sexual harassment case she had filed against inspector of schools Netrananda Dandasena. The 36-year-old victim succumbed to her burn injuries on November 1, 2013, while undergoing treatment at a hospital in Visakhapatnam.
The State Government had dismissed four officials in connection with the killing on charges of dereliction of duty. The accused officials are Dandasena, district inspector of schools Dharanidhar Behera, inspector in-charge of Tikiri police station Sujit Kumar Sai and assistant sub-inspector of police M D Pradhan.
The State Crime Branch, which took up the investigation into the case on November 1 last year following an order of the Chief Minister, is yet to nab the prime accused.
The Opposition political parties in the State have come down heavily on the State Government following the Supreme Court directive on Itishree Pradhan case. Stating that the Congress had been all along demanding a CBI probe into the case, Leader of the Opposition Narsingh Mishra alleged that the State Government was not responding to it because of the involvement of ruling party politicians.
Stating that the Supreme Court directive is a warning bell for the State Government, senior BJP leader Bijay Mohapatra said that the party had demanded action against the officials concerned, district collector and superintendent of police. But leave alone taking action, the State Government chose to retain the district collector under whose tenure the incident had taken place, he said.