Odisha teacher dies after being set on fire

Bhubaneswar, Nov 1 : A woman teacher in Odisha's Rayagada district died Friday, four days after an unidentified assailant set her ablaze for allegedly refusing to withdraw a sexual assault complaint.

"She succumbed to her injuries at a private hospital in Visakhapatnam in the neighbouring state of Andhra Pradesh where she was undergoing treatment. Her condition was critical," district superintendent of police Rajesh Pandit told IANS.

Itishree Pradhan, 28, was set on fire Oct 27 night after she reportedly refused to withdraw a complaint of sexual assault lodged July against local school inspector Netrananda Dandsena.

The incident took place in a residential government school at Tikiri in Rayagada district, about 420 km from the state capital Bhubaneswar.

She was watching a television show along with some children when the assailant entered the school room, poured kerosene on her and set her on fire.

Pradhan sustained more than 90 percent burn injuries.

The district administration suspended Dandsena, a district inspector of schools, and also a police officer investigating the case.

Dandsena was absconding ever since Pradhan filed the police complaint.

A committee against sexual harassment at the work place, which probed the allegation, found Dandsena guilty and recommended action against him.

Police arrested Dandsena Wednesday and are investigating if he set the teacher on fire himself or whether he hired someone to commit the crime.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik expressed grief and announced an ex-gratia of Rs.10 lakh for the next of kin of the deceased. He also ordered the crime branch of the state police to probe the incident.

--IANS (Posted on 01-11-2013)

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