Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bargarh/Padmapur/Paikamal, Mar 19:
The Additional District and Session Judge Court at Padampur on Wednesday sentenced six accused to 10-year rigorous imprisonment for kidnapping and raping a dalit woman in Odisha’s Bargarh district on May 9, 2009.
Delivering the verdict, Additional District and Session Judge at Padampur, Sayed Abdul Kadar Zahir Ahmed, also fined them Rs 20,000 each and said the convicts would have to undergo additional two-year jail term in case they fail to pay the amount.
The court later remanded the six accused—Mahesh Agrawal, former chairman of Paikamal Panchayat Samiti; Sajjan Agrawal, Kunal Singh Bariha, Kamalesh Srivastav, Gunanidhi Nag and Pintu alias Ajit Pradhan—to judicial custody after rejecting their bail plea.
The court pronounced its judgement on the basis of the statement of 38 witnesses.
The court also ruled that the fines collected from the accused would be given to the victim to meet the expenses of her treatment.
The special public prosecutor Bhimsadev Saraf, fighting the case on behalf of the victim, said justice has been delivered to the victim though it was late.
In his statement, BJP MLA Pradip Purohit, who had led the agitation against the barbaric act, said the court has delivered justice to the victim by punishing the guilty.
However, the counsel of the accused has informed that he would move the higher court against the verdict.
Reacting to the judgment of the court, the victim, while expressing her dissent, said the accused should have been awarded life imprisonment for the heinous act they had committed.
“Though the state government has provided two constables for my security, I still feel insecure as the accused are most likely to be acquitted by the higher court”, she added.
According to the police, the 24-year-old dalit woman of Bukuramunda village under Paikamal police station limits had gone to the block office to enquire about a government job where Agarwal and his associates promised to help her. Later, they took her to a place near Manabhanga dam and raped her. The accused later brought the victim to the godown of Sajjan Agrawal and raped her again.
Following information, police rushed to the spot and rescued the victim.
The incident had triggered statewide uproar after the news was flashed in Odia vernacular daily, Sambad.
The prime accused, Mahesh Agarwal, was a leader of the state’s Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and was the chief of the local block while Kunal Singh Bariha is a nephew of former state minister and senior BJD leader Bijaya Ranjan Singh Bariha.
The BJD high command later suspended Agarwal from the party and removed Bijay Ranjan Singh Bariha from the ministry following allegations that he was trying to shield the accused.
The state government later relieved the then Padmapur SDPO Jyoti Prakash Mohapatra, who was probing into the case, following public demand and handed over the case to the state Crime Branch.
The Crime Branch, in course of its investigation, arrested Gunanidhi Nag from Jagdalpur on June 10, 2009, Mahesh Agrawal on December 17, 2009, Kamalesh on October 18, 2009, Sajjan from Raipur on October 19, 2009 and Pintu Pradhan on October 22, 2009 and Kunal Singh Bariha on August 16, 2010 after he surrendered in the court.