Odisha Minister of Agriculture Resigns

Odisha’s Minister of Agriculture and Farmer’s Empowerment Minister, Pradeep Marathy resigned from the Navneen Patnaik’s cabinet on Sunday, Jan 6, after his controversial remarks on the acquittal of the accused of the Pipli gang rape case. 

"Maharathy has sent his resignation letter to the Chief Minister's office. He has resigned on moral grounds," a source in the CMO said. "I have tendered my resignation on moral grounds. I am not a coward, I am a stalwart. I am ready to face any inquiry," Maharathy told the reporters. He added that he’s doing so to save the party from the pressure of his remarks.  

The development was followed by Prime Minister Modi’s public meeting at Baripada, Odisha on Saturday wherein he accused the Odisha government of not being serious about the welfare of women and girls and urged it to re-investigate the Pipili gang rape-and-murder case. 

On December 24, 2018, the court had acquitted the two persons arrested in the case for lack of evidence. In response to the judgement, Maharathy said, "I welcome the court judgement. It is victory of truth. The victim girl got justice."  

The statement angered the victim’s family and soon created political and public outcry. "How come the victim got justice when the accused persons are acquitted?" asked Odisha Mahila Congress president Sumitra Jena. Women’s wings of opposition parties had demanded his resignation. 

A 19-year-old Dalit girl was raped in November, 2011 and succumbed to injuries in June, 2012.It was alleged that the accused in the case had been sheltered by Maharathy. He had to resign back then in the face of a state-wide hue and cry for allegedly sheltering the accused. He again became a minister after the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) returned to power in 2014. 

A demand of handing over the case to CBI is in force. Family members of the deceased girl also maintained that Maharathy's resignation would not give justice to the victim as long as the guilty move freely. 

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