Sexual harassment in Odisha shelter home: Maneka Gandhi orders probe
New Delhi: Taking serious note of the sexual harassment incident in Odisha shelter homes, Union Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi wrote a letter to Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Saturday.
This apart, Gandhi ordered a probe by Union WCD secretary and National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR).
“It is a matter of great concern that the incident only came to light when some of the girls residing at the Dhenkanal shelter home confided in the media and accused the shelter home in-charge Simanchal Nayak and NGO head Faiz Rehman of sexual abuse. It is shocking that such horrors were being carried out in a location situated only 10 KM away from the Dhenkanal district Clollectorate and Superintendent of Police (SP) office,” Gandhi said in the letter.
“It is further understood that the Odisha Women and Child Development Minister and District Child Protection Officer have confirmed that the license for this shelter home had expired last month. This is a gross violation of Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS) and highlights a lack of oversight by state government authorities on statutory compliance for running a shelter home. I am horrified to learn the ‘Good News India’ NGO in question is currently operating more than 25 such shelter homes in Odisha. This incident is revealing of a deep and utter failure on the part of the state government in taking basic precautionary measures for the safety and welfare of children, leading to such a heinous incident,” she added.
“I strongly believe that the concerned authorities must assume moral responsibility for this incident. I have asked the Secretary, Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India to get an inquiry conducted in this case. I have also asked NCPCR to get all the homes in Odisha inspected immediately,” concluded the Minister.
Earlier in the day, Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan had sought Centre’s intervention in the sexual harassment of girl inmates at Dream Center shelter home in Beltikiri village of Dhenkanal. He had written a letter to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh requesting for an exemplary action against the accused.
Notably, the matter of sexual harassment had come to fore after some inmates of the Dhenkanal shelter home had accused the owner and caretaker of sexually harassing them on November 30.
On the other hand, the Dhenkanal police had taken Faiz Rahman on remand to question him about the entire episode. Police produced him before the special POCSO Court yesterday which sent him to judicial custody after his bail hearing was deferred as police failed to submit the case diary.