Protests by BJP demanding the resignation of Odisha’s minister of state for Home Dibya Shankar Mishra for his alleged involvement in the Bolangir lady teacher murder case continued across the state on Saturday despite the minister’s denial of any role in the murder.
The minister broke his silence yesterday, nearly two weeks after his name cropped up in the case due to his alleged proximity with Gobinda Sahu, the main accused in the case who has been arrested.
He said he would not only resign from his position as a minister, but also retire from public life altogether if an iota of evidence is produced about his involvement in the case.
“I swear in the name of Maa Manikeshwari (the presiding deity of Kalahandi) that I have nothing to do with the case,” he said in a written statement.
Notwithstanding his denial, the BJP is observing a 12-hour bandh from 6 am to 6 pm in Kendrapara, Jagatsinghpur, Balasore and Boudh districts and a 6-hour bandh in Bhadrak district to press its demand for the ouster of Mishra from the council of ministers.
Normal life, especially vehicular movement, was seriously affected in all these places.
Asked why the party was continuing with its demand for the minister’s resignation even after the minister clarified his position, BJP spokesperson Lekhashree Samantaray said; “The minister cannot escape his responsibility by merely invoking Goddess Manikeshwari. He must come clean on his close links with the murder accused.” “How can one expect a fair probe if he continues to be a minister – and the minister for home at that? That’s why we are asking for his resignation,” said a protester in Balasore.
While calling for justice for the family of Mamita Meher, the deceased teacher, and the strictest punishment to the guilty, the two-page statement issued by the minister yesterday steered clear of his relations with Gobinda Sahu, the accused who founded the Mahaling school in Kalahandi where Meher taught.
It also made no mention about the ‘reconciliation meeting’ he had allegedly called between Gobinda Sahu and Mamita at his Raipur house. Senior Congress leader Narasingha Mishra and senior BJP leader Bijoy Mohapatra have both alleged that the minister had called the meeting days before the murder in an effort to bring about a rapprochement between the two.
Meanwhile, the deputy inspector general (DIG), northern range, Deepak Kumar has denied the allegation made by the two senior Opposition leaders that he had sent a report about the meeting at the minister’s Raipur residence to the chief minister’s office (CMO). “It is completely false. There is no such report,” he said.