Bhubaneswar: The State Commission for Persons with Disabilities on Monday began an investigation into the alleged sexual harassment of inmates and operation of a sex racket at the All Odisha Orthopedically Handicapped Welfare Association centre at Palaspalli in the city.
State Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities, Sulochana Das said the Commission has taken suo motu cognizance of media reports on the shocking incidents and will take stern action against the accused.
“The Commission is yet to receive any complaint about this incident. I feel ashamed of such an incident. I will talk to the inmates of the centre to elicit the details from them and anyone found guilty, will be severely punished,” Das said.
Asked about the video of the immoral act at the training centre that has gone viral on social media, Das said the Commission will collect the video and other details from the media to establish the veracity of the incident.
The incident came to light after a former woman employee of the centre posted the video on social media.
Talking to the media, she accused the general secretary of the Association, Suresh Kumar Behera, of allegedly running the sex racket.
She further alleged that several government officials used to visit the centre for sexual gratification.
Talking about the modus operandi, she said that the women brought from outside charge Rs 2,500 from each customer during the day and Rs 5,000 for the night. “Sometimes, the Divyang inmates were forced to have sexual relations with the government officials. I, being an employee of the institute, have also fallen prey to the sexual harassment”, she added.
Narrating her plight, the complainant, a native of Sinapalli area of Nuapada district, said she had come to Bhubaneswar in 2015 in search of a job and met Suresh Behera, who was the then treasurer of the Centre.
Behera reportedly helped her to get appointed as an instructor of a beauty parlour with a promised monthly salary of Rs 7200. But she received a salary of Rs 5000 after six months. “As I claimed my arrears, I was asked to stay with a promise to release the claimed amount. But this did not happen,” she said.
She also said that during the COVID-19 pandemic, Behera asked her to stay in the centre. “One night, he attempted to rape me. But as I threatened to lodge a complaint with the police, he threatened to kill me. After the incident, I wanted to leave the centre and demanded my arrear salary. At this, he assaulted me. Finding no other way, I lodged a complaint in the Airfield Police Station on November 23 last year,” she informed.
Meanwhile, Behera has been absconding since the incident came to light.