With the State Assembly moving up and down consecutively for three days and the Congress members staging a walkout during an Adjournment Motion debate on the same issue, the murder of Jajpur district’s Haridaspur Panchayat Extension Officer (PEO) Smitarani Biswal has become a blot on the Naveen Patnaik government.The BJP members have been demanding a CBI inquiry into the incident that took place a month ago and they have been staging silent protests inside Assembly wearing black bands.
For one thing, the death of Smitarani Biswal continues to remain shrouded in mystery even as police have claimed that the woman committed suicide over fissures in her extra-marital affair. Though police arrested husband of Haridaspur sarpanch Rupesh Bhadra on charges of abetting Smitarani’s suicide, family of the woman have refused to buy the police version of the incident. Rupesh’s wife and Haridaspur sarpanch Madhusmita Bhadra has also dismissed the police story.
Terming the police investigation as bogus and misdirected, Smitarani’s father Sadananda Biswal has demanded a CBI probe into her death. The BJP had even observed a dawn-to-dusk bandh in the district demanding CBI probe into the mysterious death of Smitarani. It is therefore no surprise when the combined opposition alleges that every attempt is being made by the State government to suppress the matter and that atrocities and crime against women are on the rise in Odisha.
Not only has the Smitarani case there been several such incidents in the past where the Naveen government was in the dock. Some time ago the death of woman teacher Itishree Pradhan, who was set ablaze in a school hostel in Odisha’s Rayagada district, had brought the issue of safety and rights of women to the fore again. The Babina and the Kunduli cases are fresh in mind.
Growing numbers of crimes against women have undoubtedly raised serious doubt over the actions of Odisha government to ensure safety to the women in the state. The state government’s overdrive on safety and empowerment of women has been stonewalled by the criminals as cases of rape and murder continue to surge .Replying to a written question of Congress leader Narasingh Mishra, MoS Home Dibya Shankar Mishra had said in the last session of the assembly that around 937 cases of rape were reported across the State between January and May. The data clearly indicate failure on part of the police to curb heinous crimes like murder and rape despite its claims of curbing the crime rate.
As per the latest statistics released by National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), crimes against women are on the rise in the State. Worryingly, the conviction rate remains a major cause of concern. It stood at an abysmally low 7.4 per cent (pc) in the State in 2017.As per the 2017 annual crime data released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), 94.7 pc cases related to crime against women were pending at hearing stage . The alarmingly low rate of conviction of serious crimes casts a shadow on the efficiency of police investigation.