BHUBANESWAR/DHENKANAL : Minister for Women and Child Development Prafulla Samal on Saturday ordered closure of the shelter home in Dhenkanal district where girl inmates were allegedly sexually harassed. Following allegations by inmates of Dream Centre Shelter Home at Beltikiri, Samal said strong action will be taken against the authorities of the shelter home.
“The shelter home is unregistered and running illegally. Strict action will be taken against the authorities of the shelter home. Some have been arrested and the rest of the officials will be nabbed soon,” he said.
Samal said 62 inmates of the shelter home will be transferred to the nearest child care institutions or they will be handed over to their parents. Stating that the institution has around 22 branches in several districts, he said the district collectors have been asked to inquire into their functioning and shut them down. “Officials have also been directed to shift the inmates of those shelter homes to other institutions,” he added.
On Friday, some girl inmates of Dream Centre Shelter Home accused the owner and caretaker of sexual harassment. Following the allegations, officials of the District Child Protection Unit (DCPU) and Child Welfare Committee (CWC) raided the shelter home and later filed a complaint at the Sadar police station after conducting an on-spot inquiry on Friday. The caretaker, Simanchal Naik, was arrested on Saturday.
DCPO Anuradha Goswami said the shelter home violated provisions under Juvenile Justice Act and was operating illegally in a secluded place at Beltikiri.
An investigation has been initiated and efforts are on to apprehend the shelter home’s owner and managing director Fayaz Rahman. Sources said caretaker Naik had lodged a complaint on November 16 before CWC stating that the girls were being sexually abused by the organisation’s owner Rahman. The CWC had directed the organisation to submit case records and the list of children, but there was no response.
The CWC members then visited the home and interacted with with the girls.
They found out that the girls were being sexually abused. The CWC issued show-cause notice to Rahman on November 27.The Collector, who is also Chairman of District Child Protection Unit, was apprised about the plight of the children at the shelter home by the DCPO. Dhenkanal Sub-Collector Pitamber Samal visited the home and met with the children.
The Centre had earlier directed the States to inspect all child care institutions in the aftermath of the alleged sexual abuse of 34 minor girls at a shelter home in Bihar. A similar case had also surfaced in Deoria, Uttar Pradesh this year. As many as 539 child care institutions were shut down by the Women and Child Development Ministry across the country for various irregularities after the inspections.