SIT to probe kidnapping, murder of Odisha 5-yr-old girl

Patnaik announces SIT to probe kidnapping and murder of 5-year-old girl

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. Credit: Facebook (Naveen.odisha)

With Odisha Assembly failing to transact any business for the second consecutive day due to noisy protests by the opposition BJP and Congress over the kidnapping and murder of a five-year-old girl, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Friday announced a probe by a special investigative team (SIT) into the incident.

Taking part in the assembly proceeding through video link, Patnaik said he was deeply saddened by the incident and his government will always stand for the rule of law.

"If SIT investigation is what is required, the state government will take steps in this regard and do it immediately," Patnaik said amid chaos in the House.

As Patnaik spoke, members of the opposition continued to raise slogans demanding the resignation of agriculture minister Arun Kumar Sahoo for his alleged role in shielding the main accused.

"I request all the members to cooperate and participate," Patnaik said as the assembly failed to transact any business for the second consecutive day due to the pandemonium by the opposition members.

However, Patnaik's appeal failed to silence the opposition who demanded that the chief minister dismiss Sahoo to pave the way for a fair probe into the killing of the five-year-old girl in Nayagarh district on July 14.

The opposition members announced that they will agitate till the minister resigns from the cabinet. The BJP members demanded a CBI probe into the incident, while the Congress MLAs demanded a court-monitored SIT probe.

Though the state government had earlier announced a probe by the crime branch into the kidnapping and murder of the girl, the opposition parties rejected it as a "sham".

They came down heavily on the government for not being able to nab the culprits even four and half months after the incident.

The opposition parties alleged that crime branch investigation and a SIT probe will not be impartial as long as Sahoo continues to remain in the cabinet. BJP deputy leader in Assembly B C Sethi said, "There is no reason to call off the stir in the assembly. We had not demanded an SIT probe. BJP's demand was a CBI probe and resignation of the minister, which were not fulfilled".

Sethi said BJP will continue to demand the minister's resignation, while the Congress whip Taraprasad Bahinipati said the party's MLA would continue to agitate in the House till it happens. Speaker S N Patro adjourned the House several times during the day and convened an all-party meeting to normalise the proceedings.

But the meeting failed and the speaker adjourned the House till Saturday. The state government had on Wednesday ordered the crime branch to take over the investigation. BJP and Congress supporters staged a demonstration outside the assembly and burnt Sahoo's effigies demanding his resignation.

The police had a tough time tackling the BJP activists who gathered near the assembly's main gate, trying to barge into the premises.

Ten BJP supporters were detained, a senior police official said.

The kidnapping and murder case came to light when the girl's parents attempted self-immolation in front of the assembly main gate four days ago. They had publicly accused Sahoo of shielding the prime accused in the case. The sarpanch of Laxmiprasad gram panchayat alleged that the agriculture minister was providing protection to the prime accused and the police could not arrest him.

The victim hailed from Jadupur village is in the gr am panchayat area in Nayagarh district.

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