The Mamita Meher rape and murder case has shaken up the entire polity of Odisha and created huge outrage among the people. The 24-year-old teacher had been reported missing on October 8. On October 19, her half-charred, decomposed corpse was dug out from an under-construction stadium owned by the institution she worked for. The ground was owned by the politically well-connected prime murder accused Govinda Sahu who owned both the land and the institution.
Though Sahu has since confessed to the crime, accusations have been hurled at BJD minister and Minister of State for Home Dibya Shankar Mishra as well. Both BJP and Congress have come together calling for protests in the state. BJP MP of Bolangir constituency, Sangeeta Singh Deo called the incident shameful.
Mamita, who was a resident of a village in the Bolangir district, had been working as the Principal in Mahaling Sun Shine School owned by Sahu and was also the warden of a girls’ hostel run by the Mahaling institution. Sahu was also a key member of the governing body in the adjoining Mahaling College built on land owned by Sahu. After her disappearance, Mamita’s family kept asserting that Sahu had been sexually exploiting women employees of the school and Mamita was opposing his acts.
She had also warned Sahu of exposing him and bringing him to justice. Though the police didn’t act on the complaints initially as the accused was a “high profile respectable” person in the locality, bowing to the public outcry, local police were compelled to detain Sahu for interrogation at the Titilagarh police barrack. Somehow Sahu managed to escape the interrogation as lights went off in the middle of the interrogation, but was soon nabbed from distant sugarcane fields.
Bolangir Police on Wednesday, October 20, confirmed that Govinda Sahu had confessed to killing Mamita during the interrogation. He had called her to meet him the day she went missing, strangulated her in his car, burned the body, and then buried the half-burned body in the ground within the institution from where was exhumed on October 19. It is alleged that Mamita was raped before she was murdered.
Along with the decomposed body an anklet, a gold chain, and a bag was also recovered. These items have been identified by Mamita’s family as her belongings. The body was sent for forensic examination. Mamita’s other anklet and a jar of petrol had also been found in the suspected car that was already being seized.
Now after the case being solidified against Sahu, a barrage of allegations have been leveled against BJD minister Dibya Shankar Mishra, The minister is being accused of involvement in a “supposed” sex racket, and the disappearance and murder of the school principal. Mishra, who is an MLA from Junagarh, where the Mahaling School and Mahaling College are located, was a frequent visitor to the institutions and is reported to have even stayed there overnight.
Kalahandi Zilla Parishad chairperson Namitarani Sahu asserts, “Many ministers used to visit this school. Dibya Shankar Mishra visited this school every week. There are three other colleges in this constituency, why did he have to visit this particular institution every time? He was also granting govt aid to this institution. He even stayed here in the night.”
On the other hand, the BJP has come down heavily on Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik for his silence on the highly debated murder case of the lady teacher and launched the ‘Halla Bol’ agitation against the BJD dispensation demanding the ouster of the BJD minister for his suspected connected with prime accused Govind Sahu.
The Bhubaneswar district president Babu Singh, on Monday, November 22, led a protest rally from Raj Mahal Square to Naveen Niwas. BJP activists, during the rally, were sloganeering against the CM, Mishra, and Law Minister Pratap Jena; the rally was stopped by the police midway at Sishu Bhawan Square. While many BJP activists sustained severe injuries in the attack, as informed by BJP leadership in the state, some were taken into preventive custody and subsequently released.
“If the government does not pay heed to their demands, the day is not far when the people of the State will come out and punish the Ministers by dragging them on the streets by cuffing their hands,” said the state BJP spokesperson Dilip Mohanty stressing that Odisha and Mamita’s family is awaiting justice.
Mishra maintains that he has no connection with the incident. In an interview given to News18 Odia, the minister said, “I am deeply saddened and anguished by the unfortunate death of Ms. Mamita Meher. I have no link in this incident…. Everyone knows my tour program. I was staying in MLA’s village on that day”.