KORAPUT: A 14-year-old schoolgirl who alleged she was gang-raped three months ago by four men wearing battle fatigues committed suicide in Odisha’s Koraput district, a Maoist bastion, on Monday. She had earlier publicly accused police of harassing her to change her statement.
The girl’s family said she was driven to suicide by her failure to get justice. “Social stigma and denial of justice forced my daughter to commit suicide. The state government and police are responsible for her death.
Police suppressed the case to shield the four uniformed rapists,” her mother said.
It was on October 10 last year that the girl alleged she had been raped by four uniformed men inside the Lanjiguda forest while she was on her way to school. Considered a Maoist bastion, the area hosts a heavy presence of police and paramilitary personnel. Initially, police blamed Maoists, saying the rebels too wore combat uniforms. Following this, the Maoists issued several statements denying their involvement .
On N ovember 7, Odisha police’s human rights protection cell concluded the girl had not been raped, citing the medical examination report.
The following day, chief minister Naveen Patnaik ordered separate investigations by the crime branch and a senior judicial magistrate.
While the girl was under treatment, she accused police of trying to force her to change her statement. On December 29, at a programme in Bhubaneswar, the Class IX student pointed at senior police personnel and accused them of trying to bribe her.
As news of her death spread, angry villagers assembled at the hospital and prevented authorities from conducting an autopsy. The area remains tense.
The suicide triggered a political blame game. Congress’s whip in the assembly, Tara Prasad Bahinipati, sought a CBI probe and the CM’s resignation.
Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan, who hails from the state, said, “I feel the girl would have been alive had the state government (led by BJD) taken the case seriously.” BJP’s women’s wing has announced a state-wide agitation on Tuesday.