Opposition parties increased pressure on Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik by staging demonstrations to demand the immediate arrest of former minister Raghunath Mohanty yesterday.
In Balasore town, Congress workers burnt effigies of Mohanty who resigned from the ministry a day ago over the issue. In Bhubaneswar and Cuttack, the leaders of both parties demanded that the former minister and his family should be arrested immediately.
“It is unfortunate that a senior leader of the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) has come under the scanner for being a law breaker. This case is symptomatic of a deeper malaise that afflicts the ruling party — an utter disrespect for women,” said state Congress president Niranjan Patnaik.
“I request the government to take immediate steps to arrest the culprits and try them through a special fast-track court,” he said. “Why are Mohanty and his family not being arrested? Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik is deliberately trying to bail out the culprits,” senior BJP leader Ashok Sahu said.
Raghunath Mohanty, five-time legislator from Basta assembly constituency in Balasore district, had to resign from the state cabinet on Friday, a day after his daughter-in-law Barsa Swony Choudhury lodged a written complaint with the police that the minister and his family had been demanding dowry of Rs 25 lakh.
In her complaint, Choudhury alleged that the minister and his family tortured her physically and mentally, ever since she married the minister’s son, Raja Shree Mohanty in June 2012.
She claimed that her parents had given Rs 10 lakh at the time of the marriage as was demanded, but her father-in-law and the rest of the family were unhappy and insisted that her parents should pay Rs 25 lakh and buy them a multi-utility vehicle.
Police have registered a case against Mohanty and four others of his family under the anti-dowry act. Mohanty however, refuted the allegations.