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Odisha shelter home head arrested for sexual abuse of HIV-infected minor


Bhawanipatna, July 22: The superintendent of a shelter home for HIV-infected children in Odisha's Kalahandi district was arrested on Monday for allegedly sexually abusing an eight-year-old inmate. Saroj Das, the superintendent of the shelter home 'Prayash', was apprehended after a complaint was lodged by the district Child Welfare Committee (CWC), Bhawanipatna police station's Inspector In-Charge Satya Nanda said.

Odisha shelter home head held for sexual abuse of HIV-infected minor

CWC Chairperson Rajesh Nayak said the shelter home has been sealed and all the nine inmates, including five girls, have been shifted to another place in Bhawanipatna. A probe into the incident had been launched on Sunday by police, the district administration, CWC and the district Child Protection Unit (DCPU) of Kalahandi following reports of the alleged sexual abuse of the HIV-infected girl.

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The girl's mother had accused the home's superintendent of sexually abusing her daughter and other inmates of the shelter home, Nayak said. The girl had been staying in the shelter home from August 2016 on the recommendation of the Balangir CWC and the District Child Protection Unit, the police official said.

The woman claimed that she was forced to take her daughter back to Balangir in March this year after the alleged sexual assault. However, there was no complaint from the girl's mother at that time, the police said.

An FIR was registered based on the statement of the girl and her mother, which was recorded by the child welfare committee and on an inquiry report given by the Balangir CWC, the said.

A police team brought the girl and her mother from Balangir to Bhawanipatna late on Sunday night as part of the investigation and the CWC recorded their statements before filing the FIR, the inspector in-charge said, adding medical examination of the girl has been conducted and further probe is underway.

The shelter home's superintendent, who was summoned and grilled by the police since Sunday, denied the allegation and said it was a conspiracy to defame him. Das said he was prepared to face any investigation into the matter. On Sunday, senior officials made a surprise visit to the shelter home, examined documents and interacted with its employees and the nine inmates, a police official said.

The incident triggered an uproar in the state Assembly during the day with opposition BJP and Congress coming down heavily on the BJD government. The opposition accused the Odisha government of failing to check increasing incidents of rapes and demanded the resignation of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. They also demanded discussion on the issue in the House.

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