Reported by Ranjan Rath
Rayagada, Nov 2:
In a touching gesture, the students, teachers and staff of Tikiri Upper Primary School in Odisha’s Rayagada district on Saturday observed the first death anniversary of Itishree Pradhan, a teacher of the school, who died after she was set on fire by an unknown assailant last year.
After offering floral tributes to their departed teacher at the school premises, the students later took out a candle light procession in the evening. Students of other schools also joined the procession in memory of Itishree Pradhan.
Ms Pradhan was set on fire while she was in her room inside the school campus on the night on October 27 last year.
After sustaining critical burn injuries, Itishree was admitted to the Tikiri CHC and then shifted to Rayagada district headquarters hospital. As her condition worsened, she was rushed to the Care Hospital at Vishakhapatnam.
Pradhan finally lost the battle and breathed her last at Care Hospital at Vishakhapatnam 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 of the her death 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.
Talking to OST, convener of Adivashi Manch, Bidulata Huika said the state government has not shown any seriousness in inquiring into the incident because a proper investigation would put some ruling party leaders in trouble.
Lashing out at the double standard of the state government, well-known social activist Jayaram Jena said while the Gajapati district collector was transferred within a week after the suicide of a nursing student, the government has offered protection to the district administration in the Itishree case.
Considering the lax manner in which the case has been investigated so far, a the matter should be handed over to the CBI, which can unravel the truth and expose the real villains, he noted.