Shelter home sexual abuse: NGO MD taken on remand

State

Bhubaneswar, Dec 4

The police on Tuesday took the managing director of an NGO on a two-day remand in connection with the alleged sexual abuse of minors at a shelter home run by the organisation in Odisha’s Dhenkanal district.

A special POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) court in Dhenkanal town — 106 km from Bhubaneswar — on Monday allowed the remand of Fayaz Rahman, who was produced at the court after his arrest.

Police sources said Rahman would be grilled about the accusations of sexual harassment of the minor girls at the shelter home, and involvement of his NGO in alleged religious conversion.

The police will also try to ascertain Rahman’s foreign links and details about permission he had obtained to set up shelter homes at 22 places in the state. He will also be asked about his source of funding, the sources said.

Rahman originally hailed from Kolkata and had later obtained US citizenship. He had himself also converted to Christianity, the police said.

He would be produced at the court at 5 pm on Wednesday on completion of the remand period, they said.

Last Friday, the police had arrested the shelter home project director, Simanchal Nayak, assistant director Udit Lima and Rahman after allegations of sexual harassment of girl inmates at the home Beltikiri village surfaced in the media.

The girls at the home had alleged that they were harassed sexually, physically and mentally by Nayak over the past two years.

Nayak, who was arrested last Saturday, had denied the allegations.

Opposition BJP, Congress demand probe into shelter home case

Notably, the opposition Congress and the BJP Monday demanded a high level inquiry into matter.

Following a visit to Dhenkanal, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) yesterday alleged that the shelter home was being used as a centre for religious conversions.

BJP Mahila Morcha president Prabhati Parida alleged that the USA based NGO was using its shelter home to convert the inmates, especially boys and girls from the tribal community.

“The head office of the NGO is in the USA and all the governing members of the board are foreigners,” Parida claimed questioning the state government for allegedly allowing the NGO to re-open the shelter home in 2017, after it was shut down in 2015.

“The minister should immediately resign on moral grounds owning responsibility,” Parida demanded.

Mahila Congress leader Sonali Sahu demanded a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) inquiry under supervision of a Supreme Court or High Court judge into the matter.

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