Odisha: Shelter home sealed over sexual abuse allegations, two arrested
An NGO-run shelter home has been sealed in Odisha's Dhenkanal district and two people, including its managing director, arrested following allegations that the minor inmates were sexually abused there. The action was taken two days after District Child Protection Officer (DCPO) Anuradha Goswami and members of the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) raided the shelter home, acting on media reports over the sexual abuse.
Inmates accused Nayak of sexual, physical and mental harassment
The in-charge of the home, Simanchal Nayak, was apprehended on Saturday. The private shelter home, which has been operating illegally at Beltikiri area, was shut down by the police yesterday. The girls at the home had alleged that they were harassed sexually, physically and mentally by Nayak over the past two years. Nayak had, however, denied the allegations and said he was being framed.
Being framed for trying to enforce discipline at shelter-home: Nayak
He's been trying to enforce discipline at the shelter home and so this is a conspiracy against him, claimed Nayak. Meanwhile, Dhenkanal Sub-Divisional Police Officer (SDPO) Sk Abdul Karim said the shelter home MD, Fayaz Rahman, and another employee, Udit Lima, were arrested yesterday and investigation is ongoing. Odisha Women and Child Development Minister (WCD) Prafulla Samal described the center as "unregistered and illegal".
Samal ordered the closure of 22 branches of the NGO
Prafulla Samal ordered its immediate closure of the shelter home on Saturday. The WCD minister said district collectors across the state have been asked to shut down all 22 branches of the shelter home, operated by NGO Good News India.
Inmates shifted to another childcare institution in the area
Dhenkanal District Collector Nikhil Pavan Kalyan said appropriate action would be taken against offenders after a thorough investigation. Senior officials of the district administration questioned the staff of shelter home yesterday. The inmates of the Dhenkanal shelter home, 47 girls and 34 boys aged between 5 and 16 years, have been shifted to another childcare institution nearby, the Dhenkanal Sadar Tehsildar said.
BJD government receiving criticism from various opposition leaders
The incident has triggered a sharp reaction from different quarters with opposition political parties coming down heavily on the BJD-government. Union Petroleum Minister and BJP leader Dharmendra Pradhan demanded the resignation of Samal for government's "failure" in preventing illegal functioning by an unregistered shelter home. Senior Congress leader and former Union Minister Srikant Jena said the BJD-government has "failed miserably in discharging" its responsibility.
BJP official alleged Samal had knowledge about the illegal home
The WCD minister, however, said the issue shouldn't be politicized and asserted that the state government will leave no stone unturned to punish the guilty. Meanwhile, a fact-finding team of the state BJP, led by its women's wing president Prabhati Parida, visited Beltikiri yesterday to assess the situation. Parida alleged that the administration, local police, and WCD minister had "knowledge about the illegal home".
Center's diktat after sexual-abuses cases emerged in Bihar, UP shelter-homes
Earlier this year, the Central Government had directed all states to inspect shelter homes in the aftermath of two alleged sexual abuse cases in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. The Supreme Court had also transferred the Bihar shelter home cases to CBI for further inquiry.