Odisha government shuts down shelter home in Dhenkanal after inmates allege sexual harassment
Odisha Women and Child Development Minister Prafulla Samal on Saturday ordered the closure of a shelter home at Beltikiri in Dhenkanal district after some girls at the facility alleged they were sexually harassed, the Odisha Sun Times reported. “I ordered the district collector to close the shelter home,” she said. “The 62 inmates will be shifted to the nearest childcare institutions.”
Samal added that Faiz Rahman, the head of the non-governmental organisation Good News India, which runs the shelter, has been arrested. Samal said that 26 shelter homes in Odisha run by the organisation have been ordered to shut down.
The minor girls at the Dhenkanal shelter had alleged that Simanchal Nayak, who is in charge of the facility, harassed them sexually and mentally for the last two years, PTI reported, quoting a police officer.
District Child Protection Officer Anuradha Goswami and members of the Child Welfare Committee raided the shelter on Friday. Goswami also filed a complaint at the Sadar police station, and Nayak was arrested. The officer alleged that the shelter home violated provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act and was operating illegally in a secluded place at Beltikiri.
However, Nayak denied the allegations against him. He claimed the girls accused him of harassment because he had tried to enforce discipline at the shelter.
In August, the Centre had asked all states and Union territories to inspect childcare institutions in their regions, after 34 minor girls were allegedly sexually abused at a facility in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur.