Odisha failed to ensure safety of children, Maneka writes to CM Naveen

New Delhi: Taking a serious note on the allegations of sexual harassment and illegal religious conversion at a shelter home run by ‘Good News India’ NGO in Beltikri of Dhenkanal district, Union Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi criticized the Odisha government stating that it has failed to take precautionary measures for the safety and welfare of children.

In a letter to CM Naveen Patnaik, Gandhi wrote, “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.”

The Union Minister has also ordered an inquiry by the Secretary of the Ministry into the matter. Besides, she has directed the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) to inspect all the shelter homes immediately.

“I strongly believe that the concerned authorities must assume moral responsibility for this incident. I have asked Secretary of the Ministry of Women and Child Development to get an inquiry conducted in this case. I have also asked National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) to get all the homes in Odisha inspected immediately,” mentioned Gandhi in her letter.

Gandhi further expressed, “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 Collectorate and Superintendent of Police office.”

Meanwhile, Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan has also sought the Centre’s intervention in the sexual harassment of girl inmates at Dream Center shelter home. In a letter to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Pradhan made a request for exemplary action against the perpetrators of the heinous crime.