AIPWA Protests Inaction of Odisha Govt. Against Sexual Harassment

Battling for life for five days, Itishree Pradhan, a school teacher who was set ablaze for refusing to withdraw a complaint of sexual harassment case against a school inspector in Tikiri school of Rayagada district, Odisha, died on 1st November 2013.

Itishree who hailed from Delang in Puri district and joined as Sikshya Sahayak at the Tikiri school, had lodged a complaint with the police in July 2013 but there was no response. Later, Itishree appealed to the state women’s commission, the DG, the collector and the SP of Rayagada, but nobody took any action. Though an investigation report was submitted to the Collector, no action was taken against school inspector Netrananda Dandasena.

On October 27th a person entered her hostel and asked her to withdraw the complaint, and when she refused, he set her fire. The same night Itishree was shifted to Rayagada and due to 99% burns injury she was shifted to Vizag. On 1st November she died.

BJD chief and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik announced an ex gratia payment of Rs 10 lakhs to Itishree’s family and ordered a crime branch probe into the incident, assuring that the case would be tried in a fast track court. AIPWA has demanded Rs 25 lakhs compensation, jobs for her family members, dismissal of the Collector, SP, and women’s commission head, as well as immediate dismissal and criminal prosecution of school inspector Netrananda Dandasena. These demands were raised by AIPWA secretary Sabita Baraj in a protest meeting held on Bhubaneswar on 2nd November. Another protest meeting was held at Delang, under the banner of the CPI (ML) Liberation local committee, led by Comrade Ashok Pradhan, state committee member. A protest march was held in Bhubaneswar, led by Comrades Shantilata Bharati, Sanjukta Biswal and Mandakini Sethi of AIPWA. A massive protest march was also held in Rayagada on 8th November.

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