Odisha Agriculture Minister Pradeep Maharathy has resigned after the Opposition accused him of trying to seal the culprits who raped a Dalit girl. He submitted his resignation letter to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik Thursday.

The Agriculture Minister said that he decided to resign on moral grounds. He added that his move was to protect the images of the Chief Minister and the government.

A Dalit girl from Odisha was allegedly gangraped Nov 28 last year. However, a case was registered Jan 9, only after the intervention of the Orissa High Court and State Human Rights Commission.

The victim, who has been in coma ever since she was allegedly raped and strangled, was recently shifted to the AIIMS, New Delhi, for better treatment.

Chief Secretary B. K. Patnaik said Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had ordered a judicial probe into the alleged rape. The panel will be headed by retired High Court judge Justice P. K. Mohanty and is expected to submit the report in three months.