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January 15, 2021

Odisha Assembly Proceedings Washed Out Due To Opposition’s Demands For Sahoo’s Resignation

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Bhubaneswar: The Odisha assembly failed to transact any business on Thursday as opposition parties created ruckus demanding resignation of agriculture minister, Arun Kumar Sahoo, for allegedly shielding the main accused in the kidnapping and murder case of a 5-year-old girl in the Nayagarh district.

After the speaker adjourned the House twice due to the din, the minister made a statement saying that he was saddened by the killing and urged the opposition parties not to politicise the issue. Sahoo said that the crime branch is investigating the case and the girl and her family would get justice.

The BJP and Congress members, however, rejected his statement and continued to demand that he step down, claiming that his remaining in the Cabinet will influence the investigation. Speaker S.N. Patro then adjourned the proceeding till 10.30 am on Friday.

As soon as the House assembled for the day, BJP members rushed to the well demanding the resignation of Sahoo. The agitating MLAs displayed placards showing the photo of the minister with Babuli Nayak, the main accused in the murder case.

They were also joined by Congress MLAs who too demanded his resignation as minister. Unable to run the House, speaker Patro adjourned the proceeding twice till 3 pm. When the proceedings resumed, Sahoo was asked to make a statement on the issue.

After remaining silent for three days, the BJD leader said that he had never supported violence in political career and was saddened by the killing of the girl in his constituency. He, however, urged opposition parties to not politicise the incident, rather help the victims family to get justice.

“I welcome the crime branch inquiry and strongly believe that justice will be done to the girl and her family. Whoever is the culprit, should be punished,” the minister said in his statement in the House.

As the opposition continued shouting demanding the minister’s resignation, speaker Patro adjourned the proceedings till 10.30 am on Friday.

While rejecting the crime branch probe ordered by the government, Opposition chief whip Mohan Charan Majhi said, “The state government had earlier also ordered the crime branch to probe several major cases. But it is yet to submit a single report…We all know that the crime branch probe is just an eyewash and the minister’s statement has no meaning. We will not allow the assembly to function till the minister resigns,” he said.

Congress MLA, Taraprasad Bahinipati, also demanded the resignation of the minister in order to make the crime branch inquiry impartial. He also demanded a high court-monitored SIT probe in the matter.

Senior Congress MLA S.S. Saluja alleged that this particular minister has been entangled in several cases in the past.

Members of both the opposition parties said that the victim girl Pari’s parents publicly alleged that the main accused in the kidnapping and murder case was not arrested due to protection from the minister. The girl’s father Ashok Sahu and mother Soudamini had made an unsuccessful bid for self-immolation near the assembly two days ago.

The BJP members, who remained silent after the statement of minister of state for home D.S. Mishra on the issue, on Wednesday, intensified their demand a day after the Union minister, Dharmendra Pradhan, held a meeting of the party legislatures.

Mishra had informed the House that Pari had been kidnapped and killed on July 14 and her skeletal remains were found from the backyard of her house on July 23. The Nayagarh police have questioned 34 suspects and conducted polygraph tests of four suspected persons. However, no one has been arrested so far. Meanwhile, Pradhan termed the home minister’s statement as “unfortunate”

“What were the police doing for four months and why (are they) not able to nab the culprits involved in the kidnapping and murder of a 5-year-old girl child? The matter has raised questions on the safety of all the girl children in the state,” Pradhan said.

The BJP rejected the crime branch inquiry into the case and demanded a CBI probe.

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