Bhubaneswar: Odisha Agriculture Minister Pradeep Maharathy on Thursday put in his papers to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik after the opposition accused him of protecting the culprits in a gang rape case.

"I submitted the resignation on moral grounds," Maharathy said after putting in his papers.

A 19-year-old woman was allegedly gang raped on Nov 28 last year by some people near her village Arjunagoda, about 10 km from state capital Bhubaneswar.

The site of the crime comes under Pipili assembly constituency which is represented by Maharathy.

"The opposition parties are trying to malign the image of our government and the image of the chief minister. I resigned to protect their image," Maharathy said.

The woman has been admitted in a in Cuttack hospital 26 km from here, and is in coma.

Her family member alleged that the accused were the same people who had assaulted her in 2008 and against whom she had put up a determined fight in court in a molestation case.

The matter came to light recently when the victim was allegedly denied proper treatment at a hospital and some media persons reported the matter after meeting her some members of her family.

(Agencies)