Bhubaneswar: In a major breakthrough in the Pipili gang rape case in Odisha, police on Sunday arrested the prime accused from Jatani area near here, while search was on to nab three others believed to have been involved in the crime.

Prime accused Prashant Pradhan alias Pasei was arrested by a special squad from Jatani, about 22 km from here, Crime Branch SP, R C Behera told reporters here.

The arrest was made a day after the CID-Crime Branch of police released the photographs of Pradhan and three other accused named in the November 28 rape case of the Dalit girl, he said.

Crime Branch Police had formed four squads which raided different locations as part of efforts to nab the accused in the rape case, Behera said, adding the arrest of Pradhan was a "major success".

Now the process is on to nab three other accused—Sukant Pradhan, Purna Chandra Swain and Premananda Nayak – whose photographs have already been released to enable people to furnish information about their whereabouts, he said.

Meanwhile, follow-up steps are being taken a day after a specialist committee of doctors decided to shift the rape victim to AIIMS, Delhi, for better treatment.

"The girl's condition has improved from coma to semi-comatose state. The specialist committee monitoring her health has decided to shift her to AIIMS for better treatment," Sanjita Das, Administrative Officer of SCB Medical College Hospital, Cuttack said.

The 19-year-old girl was shifted to SCB Medical College Hospital from the Capital Hospital here following an order from Orissa High Court, which would be informed about the committee's decision shortly, hospital sources said.

Though the girl was allegedly raped by four persons on November 28, 2011, police registered an FIR on January 9, 2012 after the State Human Rights Commission intervened.

Elaborate security arrangements have been made in and around SCB Medical College Hospital as per direction of the High Court, according to Cuttack Deputy Commissioner of Police Pravin Kumar.

Demanding a CBI probe into the incident, different political parties including Congress and BJP have slammed the BJD government in the state accusing it of being responsible for rising crime against women.

The opposition political parties as well as other organisations have lashed out at the state government for deteriorating law and order situation.

Dismissing the judicial probe ordered by the state government as an "eye-wash and time consuming mechanism", the women's wing of Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) held a rally and burnt the effigy of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Saturday.

Opposition parties have demanded resignation of Agriculture Minister Pradeep Maharathy accusing him of harbouring the accused persons. The minister has denied the charge as baseless.

"Allegations against me are baseless. I welcome judicial probe ordered by the government into the matter," Maharathy said.

(Agencies)