Reported by Ranjan Rath
Rayagada Nov 18:
The district and sessions court of Rayagada in Odisha today recorded the statements of two persons in the high profile Itishree Pradhan murder case trial.
The two witnesses, whose statements were recorded today, were Dr Baijayanti Singh, who was present at the time of her dying declaration and Dr Utkal Ranjan Rath.
The court, however, did not record the statement of Jagdish Majhi, a class-8 student while considering his age.
Yesterday, the court had recorded the statements of Headmaster of Tikiri Upper Primary School Chandra Sekhar Panda, cook Shashi Bhusan Nayak and an ex-student of the school Debendra Nayak.
Statements of suspended DI Dharanidhar Behera, ex-Tahasildar Prashant Kumar Das, who was also present at the time of Itsihree’s dying declaration and District Education Officer (DEO) Premanand Rout would be recorded tomorrow.
During his three-hour long deposition yesterday, headmaster Chandra Sekhar Panda told the judge Janab Mohd. Ajmal that there was bad blood between Itishree and SI Netranand Dandasena from the day the former joined the school.
Panda told the court that there was pressure on Itishree to leave the hostel from various quarters including the DEO. He himself had been threatened by former Koraput MP Jairam Pangi at the time, the headmaster said.
Cook Shashi Bhushan and ex student Debendra told the court that they found Itishree in flames when they rushed to her room while watching TV at about 9 pm on the fateful day.
As per the directions of the Supreme Court, the statements of witnesses are scheduled to be recorded every 15 days to ensure a faster verdict. “The statements of 20 out of the 74 witnesses named by in the charge sheet filed by the crime branch are scheduled to be recorded in the first phase,” crime branch lawyer Rajendra Sahoo told OST.
It may be mentioned here that the crime branch of Odisha police, which took over the case, has not yet been able to arrest the main accused who poured kerosene and torched the lady teacher even one year after the incident. Neither has the state government taken any action against the district administration or provided any protection to the witnesses.