Shelter home where inmates were ‘sexually harassed’ was running illegally: Minister

Dhenkanal: Following sexual harassment allegations by inmates of Dream Centre Shelter Home at Beltikiri under Sadar police limits of Dhenkanal, Women and Child Development Minister Prafulla Samal today informed that the institution is unregistered and was running illegally.

“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,’ said Samal.

The Minister further said that the inmates of the shelter home will be transferred to the nearest child care institutions or they will be handed over to their parents.

“The shelter home has some 22 to 26 branches in several district of the state. The district Collectors have been directed to investigate those and shut them down. The officials have also been directed to shift the inmates of those shelter homes to other institutions,” added Samal.

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 yesterday.

Based on the complaint, Sadar police arrested the in-charge of the shelter home, Simanchal Nayak late on Friday night.

“Two girls of the shelter home alleged that Nayak used to sexually harass them. As per their statements, Nayak has been arrested. After recording the statement of the girls, he will be forwarded to court,” informed IIC of Sadar police station, Malaya Nayak.

“A team of officials have been sent to interrogate Fayaz Rehman, managing director of the shelter home and if any complaint is lodged against him, legal action will be taken against Rehman,” added the IIC.

On the other hand, Nayak had refuted the allegations and called it an act of revenge by the girls for trying to enforce discipline. “They have levelled allegations against me as they were having affairs. Many a times I have seized love letters and mobile phones from the girls,” Nayak said.

“The charges levelled against my husband are false. This is a conspiracy against my husband and the girls have been instigated to lie,” said Nayak’s wife.

Meanwhile, Dhenakanal Sub Collector Pitambar Samal visited the shelter home and questioned the inmates. Pitambar said that appropriate action will be taken after a detailed investigation into the matter.

Besides, a letter written by the internal auditor of Dream Centre Shelter Home, Pramod Raul to all the directors has come to the fore, wherein it is mentioned that the inmates should be trained to say that they are receiving proper care at the homes if asked during any spot visit by police or officials of the Child Welfare Committee (CWC).

The letter emphasised that children living in Rayagada and Kandhamal shelter homes should not reveal about the past incidents at the centre.

“This was just a formal letter. Many a times the children say something which could be interpreted in a wrong way. I have not asked the officials to cover any crime,” said Raul while defending his e-mail.

However, the cook of the shelter home, Pitabas Digal, alleged that Rehman used to ‘hug and kiss’ the inmates and Nayak is innocent.