The Opposition Congress on Wednesday demanded a statement from Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on the series of rape of minor girls in Odisha including the recent gangrape in Malkangiri district, with BJD members saying that isolated incidents should not be highlighted.
"We want a statement by the Chief Minister, who is also Home Minister, on what is happening in the state. Why has the government failed to check rising rapes of minor girls," Congress Chief Whip Prasad Harichandan asked in the Assembly.
Ridiculing the state government's claim about steps to check crimes against women, Harichandan said 1458 rape cases were registered in 2012 compared to 1112 cases in 2011.
The police filed charge sheet in only 50% cases and the rate of conviction was very low, he alleged.
"Is this the state government's stringent action against rapists?" he asked adding that there was also a spate of gangrapes in the state.
Gangrapes increased to 80 in 2012 from 73 in the previous year he said, accusing the government of failing to provide safety to women, particularly minor girls.
The issue was raised by the Leader of Opposition Bhupinder Singh.
"A 13-year-old girl was mercilessly raped by four persons and is struggling for survival in hospital," Singh said.
Quoting a recent state government report, Singh said at least 115 rapes of minors were reported in January and February this year.
Congress member Naba K Das also expressed concern over the rise in sexual offences against minor girls.
Opposition members cited several recent instances of minor and dalit rape cases that took place at Rayagada, Dhenkanal, Basta in Balasore, Malkangiri and other places.
The treasury bench, however, claimed that the Naveen government had taken a series of steps to empower women.
"We too condemn offences against women. But, the opposition should not highlight isolated incidents and portray a misleading picture," said BJD deputy whip Sanjay Dasburma.
He said that BJD government reserved 50 per cent seats for women in the panchayat and urban elections.
BJD woman member Sipra Mallick said the Naveen Patnaik government opened Mahila and Sisu Desks in all 537 police stations across the state besides 16 fast track courts.
Eighteen more such courts would be set up, she said.