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Congress intensifies stir against Maharathy for welcoming rape acquittal

Bhubaneswar: Intensifying its attack on Agriculture Minister Pradeep Maharathy for his alleged irresponsible remarks on the gangrape and murder of a girl in Pipili, the Congress Mahila Morcha on Sunday announced to gherao Naveen Niwas, the residence of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on January 3 demanding the former’s resignation.

Maharathy courted controversy after welcoming the recent acquittal of two men in the 2011 gang-rape and murder of a girl at Pipili in Puri district.

With Lok Sabha and Assembly elections round the corner, the agitations of opposition BJP and Congress could have put Maharathy in a difficult situation.

It must be mentioned that Maharathy had earlier reportedly tried to shield the rape accused leading to his removal as Agriculture Minister in January 2012.

Mahila Morcha president Sumitra Jena told reporters here that if the Maharathy fails to resign by January 2, then the Mahila Congress workers will gherao the Chief Minister’s residence.

Though Maharathy tendered an unconditional apology on Thursday for his remarks, but it fails to relent the Congress women activists. Meanwhile, Mahila Congress workers also hurled eggs and tomatoes at his residence while BJP’s Mahila Morcha took out a candle march, demanding his resignation.

On Saturday, the BJP also announced to gherao the Crime Branch headquarters at Cuttack on December 31 protesting against the acquittal of two accused brothers in 2011 sensational rape and murder of a Dalit girl at Pipili in Puri district for want of evidence.

Maharathy, who had to quit as Agriculture Minister in January 2012 for allegedly trying to shield Prashant and Sukant Pradhan, the acquitted accused brothers, stirred a controversy on Tuesday by welcoming the court’s judgment that was delivered on Monday. He also drew sharp criticism by claiming that the victim’s family got justice after the judgment was delivered.

The 19-year-old girl, who was allegedly raped on November 28, 2011, had succumbed on June 21, 2012 after remaining semi-comatose at SCB medical in Cuttack, triggering State-wide massive public outrage.

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