Odisha shelter home sealed over sexual abuse allegations

Dhenkanal/Bhubaneswar
2 Dec 2018

An NGO-run shelter home was Sunday sealed in Odisha's Dhenkanal district in the wake of allegations of sexual abuse by its minor inmates, an official said. The action came two days after District Child Protection Officer (DCPO) Anuradha Goswami and members of Child Welfare Committee (CWC) raided the shelter home, acting on media reports which stated that girls were being abused at the facility. "The private home, which has been operating illegally at Beltikiri area, was shut down by the police in presence of Dhenkanal Sadar Tehsildar U K Mohapatra and the DCPO," the district official said. Dhenkanal Subdivisional Police Officer Abdul Karim said the in-charge of the home, Simanchal Nayak, and managing director Fayaz Rahman have been detained. The girls at the home had alleged that they were harassed sexually, physically and mentally by Nayak over the past two years. Nayak has, however, denied the allegations and said they had done so as he had tried to enforce discipline at the shelter home. Odisha Women and Child Development Minister (WCD) Prafulla Samal on Saturday described the centre "unregistered and illegal", ordering its immediate closure. Asserting that strict action would be taken against the offenders, she 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. The inmates of the Dhenkanal shelter home - 47 girls and 34 boys - have been shifted to another childcare institution, Mohaptra said. Meanwhile, a fact-finding team of the state BJP, led by its women's wing president Prabhati Parida, visited Beltikiri Sunday to assess the situation. The team interacted with the locals to find out the modus operandi of the shelter home, sources in the party said. Hitting out at the state government, Parida alleged that the administration, local police and WCD minister had "knowledge about the illegal home". Earlier this year, the central government directed all states to inspect shelter homes in the aftermath of two alleged sexual abuse cases in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. As many as 539 childcare institutions were shut down by the Union Women and Child Development Ministry in different parts of the country for various irregularities. (PTI)