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Victim of sexual abuse, official indifference battles for life

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OST Bureau
Rayagada, Oct 30:

The condition of Itishree Pradhan, the 36 year old lady teacher of Tikiri Upper Primary School, who was set on fire by an unidentified person inside the school hostel room on Sunday night, continues to be critical.

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Doctors at the Sevenseas Hospital in Visakhapatnam said that the condition of the patient has been deteriorating as her body is swelling continuously with 80 per cent burn injury.

Demanding justice and free treatment to the victim, around 200 teachers under the banner of Rayagada Zilla Shiksha Sahayak Sangh submitted a memorandum to chief minister Naveen Patnaik through district collector Sashibhusan Padhi yesterday.

The teachers urged the state government to meet all the expenses towards the treatment of the victim in a good hospital, Crime Branch inquiry into the case and stringent punishment to the culprits.

From day one of her joining the school on July 18, 2011, Itishree was allegedly subjected to sexual harassment by Dandasena who was then the headmaster of the school.

Finding it unbearable, she had filed a complaint against him with the Tikiri police station and later approached the Deputy Inspector Schools, the district collector and the SP and even wrote to the School and Mass Education minister, but all in vain.

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Dejected by the indifference of the authorities, Itishree had issued a press note on August 16 this year in which she had given a detailed account of how everybody she had approached for justice had chosen to ignore her appeals.

Expressing grave concern over the incident, state convener of National Association of Women Organisations (NAWO) Pramila Swain and District Women’s Committee member and Sexual Harassment Committee member Bidulata Huika have decided to visit Tikiri for an on-the-spot inquiry.

Meanwhile, district collector Sashibhusan Padhi has placed Sub Inspector of schools Netrananda Dandasena and ASI of Tikiri police station Muralidhar Pradhan under suspension for failing to provide protection to the victim despite her repeated requests.

The collector had earlier suspended the District Inspector of Schools.