3 held for harassment at shelter homes

Balasore: Acting on the direction of National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), district collector Sanatan Mallick has suspended one official each of two correction homes on charges of dereliction of duty while police have arrested three persons in this connection.

District child welfare officer Itishree Mohapatra and programme officer Smitanjali Behura have been placed under suspension for ‘abetting sexual harassment’ of a minor girl who had filed two FIRs at different police stations in the district accusing them of their involvement in the crime.

In the FIR, the girl has alleged that she was physically tortured by Goura Chandra Khamari, the husband of the caretaker of shelter home Bapuji Seva Sadan where she was put up after being rescued from Siligudi in West Bengal. The girl, who could not bear the torture of her parents, had left home in November 2010 and was rescued the same month.

Later, when the harassment came to the fore, the victim, under the direction of District Child Welfare Committee, was shifted to another correction home, Santwana. But her ordeal did not end there. She was sexually abused there by Vinod Nayak, the husband of the shelter home’s caretaker Mamata Behera.

Taking suo motu cognizance of media reports about the crime and the FIRs filed at Sahadevkhunta and Nilagiri poclice stations in the district, NHRC enquired about the incident. From investigations, the rights panel got to know about the facts and directed the collector to take action.

The police have arrested Vinod Nayak, Mamata Behera and Goura Chandra Khamari. Meanwhile, the collector has also ordered to seal both the shelter homes and discontinuation of extending any financial support from the government.