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Orissa becoming unsafe for Women!

"The biggest question by the women of Orissa in general to CM Naveen Pattnaik is - what kind of development he talks about? How the development of women is possible in a state where women are not safe and where leadership is exploitative as in case of the tribal girl rape case of Bargarh?."

Sujata Mahapatra : June 10, 2009

A tribal girl was gang raped in Paikamal of Bargarh by some senior district level workers of ruling party BJD. The 24 year tribal girl visited Paikamal Block office on May 11, 2009 to enquire about the vacant Anganwadi workers post when she was allured with a job promise by Mahesh Agarwall – BJD leader and the Block Chairman. Later the tribal girl was taken to places and was allegedly gang raped by Mahesh and his few other followers.

Even though an FIR has been lodged by the victim, local police has been callous in arresting the alleged culprit who happens to be the closest man of newly appointed Tribal Welfare Minister in Naveen Pattnaik cabinet Bijay Ranjan Singh Bariha. There have been allegations from various quarters that the Minister Bariha is guarding the alleged culprits and, instead of ensuring justice to the victim tribal girl, is trying to allure the victim to withdraw her complain.

Less than twenty days of the incident, another girl who worked as a nurse in a local nursing home in Burla of Sambalpur was gang raped near Sambalpur Sadar Police Station in front of her boy friend who was accompanying her from Deogarh to Burla.

After furore over the incident, state government has ordered an investigation of both the cases by Crime Branch. Few of the alleged culprits in the nurse case have been arrested where as there is no progress in the Paikamal rape case that has got many political links.

In the mean time, a girl working in the Water Resources department raised an allegation of being abused and threatened by an Engineer of the department. Ironically, the department comes under the berths kept by Chief Minister himself.

These are few recent cases only. Few months back, a woman was forcibly dragged out of a Bus on Konark – Puri Marine Drive road by some hooligans and was gang raped. The incident happened in front of the passengers on board and Bus staff.

Even though leaders of BJD have always played with the card of women development and empowerment, these stray incidents make all those claims hollow. Alleged link of a minister in the new cabinet of Naveen Pattnaik has again raised question over the transparency and non-corrupt faces of his government. As it seems, woman has just become a poll plank for the leaders and political parties.

The biggest question by the women of Orissa in general to CM Naveen Pattnaik is - what kind of development he talks about? How the development of women is possible in a state where women are not safe and where leadership is exploitative as in case of the tribal girl rape case of Bargarh?

Author is a journalist, social activist and the Manager of HOTnHIT Newsfeatures

 

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