Odisha Sun Times Bureau
New Delhi/Rayagada, Jan 20:
The Supreme Court today directed the CBI to probe the gruesome murder of Itishree Pradhan, a lady teacher in Odisha’s Rayagada district who died on November 1, 2013 after battling severe burn injuries sustained five days before that.
The apex court, in an order, asked the CBI director to form an investigating team within a week to nab the prime accused in the murder of the lady teacher and submit a report within two months.
“Inordinate delay in the investigation by the state crime branch has given sufficient ground to order for a CBI probe into the incident with immediate effect,” said Suresh Tripathy, counsel for the Bengaluru based petitioner Sudipta Lenka.
“While the state government had requested the apex court to allow it to continue the investigation, the court, in its ruling, declined to accept the plea pointing out that the police are yet to nab the prime accused more than one year after the incident, which had cast a doubt about the investigation by the state police,” Tripathy said.
Soon after the verdict, the state BJP today said that the order of the apex court is a severe jolt to the Odisha government.
“We had demanded that the state government should take action against the concerned officials, district collector and SP and place them under suspension. But leave alone taking action, the state government chose to retain the district collector under whose tenure the incident had taken place. There is no doubt that the order of the apex court for a CBI probe into the incident has served a warning bell to the state government”, said senior BJP leader Bijay Mohapatra.
“There was a demand from all quarters in the state for an impartial probe into the incident. In her dying declaration, Itishree had held both the district collector and SP responsible for the incident.But the state government did not initiate any action against them. Taking note of this, the Supreme Court has ordered a CBI probe into the incident,” noted state BJP president KV Singhdeo.
On the other hand, BJD leader and former minister Pradip Maharathy, while welcoming the CBI probe into the incident, said let the prime accused be brought to book and punished as per the law of the land.
It may be mentioned that Itishree was set on fire while she was in her room inside the Tikiri Upper Primary School campus on the night of October 27 in 2013 and succumbed to her injuries at the CARE Hospital at Vishakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh after five days on November 1.
While her first statement was recorded by a local magistrate at the Rayagada district headquarters hospital, the Metropolitan Magistrate of Vishakhapatnam had recorded her dying statement in which she had blamed the Chief minister and the district administration for their apathetic attitude and for not taking any action against a teacher and officials who had been harassing and threatening her.
The state Crime Branch, which took up the investigation into the case on November 1 last year following the order of the Chief Minister, is yet to nab the prime accused.
While Itishree’s father Balabhadra Pradhan has died in the meanwhile, her mother has been desperately waiting for justice.