Probe Launched Into Alleged Sexual Abuse of Girls in Odisha Shelter Home

The mother of a minor girl said her daughter and other inmates were sexually abused by the shelter home's superintendent, Saroj Das.

Bhawanipatna (Odisha): Authorities launched a probe Sunday into reports of alleged sexual abuse of HIV positive minor girls at a shelter home by its superintendent in Odisha’s Kalahandi district, police said.

The district administration, police, Child Welfare Committee (CWC) and District Child Protection Unit (DCPU) of Kalahandi initiated the probe after local news channels reported alleged sexual abuse of an eight-year-old HIV positive girl, who was an inmate of the centre.

The mother of the girl, from Bolangir, has alleged that her daughter and other inmates were sexually abused by the shelter home’s superintendent, Saroj Das.

Following this, the woman alleged that she was forced to bring her daughter back home.

Das, who was summoned by the police for questioning, denied the allegation and said it was a conspiracy to defame him.

He too sought a thorough inquiry into the matter.

As part of the probe, senior officials made a surprise visit to the shelter home, verified documents and interacted with its employees and nine inmates, police sources said.

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The alleged victim from Bolangir was in the shelter home on the recommendation of the CWC and DCPU, Bolangir, since August 2016. However, on March 25, her mother took her back stating she is now capable of maintaining her daughter.

She had also given an undertaking that she would provide her daughter education and regular treatment at Bolangir.

However, there was no complaint from her before the CWC at that time, a CWC official said.

CWC of Kalahandi has also requested its counterpart at Bolangir to inquire the matter.

Bhawanipatna town police called Saroj Das to the police station for questioning.

A police team was also sent to bring the girl and her mother from Bolangir as part of the investigation, Inspector In-charge of Bhawanipatna police station Satya Nanda said.

Though the girl and her mother have not lodged a formal police complaint so far, the police have launched a probe on its own on the basis of media reports as it is a sensitive issue, Nanda said.