The Odisha Police on Tuesday took the managing director of a non-governmental organisation on two-day remand in connection with the alleged sexual harassment of minor girls at a shelter home in Dhenkanal district, PTI reported. Fayaz Rahman, who runs Good News India, had been arrested last week. The government had ordered all shelter homes run by the NGO to shut down.

A special Protection of Children from Sexual Offences court in Dhenkanal town had on Monday allowed police remand for Rahman. The police are likely to interrogate him about the illegal functioning of the shelter home for the last two years, and the allegations of sexual harassment, the Odisha Sun Times reported.

The girls at the Dhenkanal shelter had alleged that Simanchal Nayak, who was in charge of the facility, harassed them sexually and mentally for the last two years. District Child Protection Officer Anuradha Goswami and members of the Child Welfare Committee raided the shelter on November 30, after which Nayak and Rahman were arrested. The officer alleged that the shelter home violated provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act and was operating illegally in a secluded place at Beltikiri. The facility has now been sealed.

BJP alleges religious conversions

Meanwhile, the Odisha unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party Mahila Morcha alleged that Good News India conducted religious conversions of Adivasi children at their shelter homes, Odisha TV reported. BJP Mahila Morcha unit chief Prabhati Parida further claimed that minor boys are also sexually harassed at the shelter homes.

“Not only are girls being sexually abused in these shelter homes, young boys are also victims in the hands of sexual predators,” she said. “Foreigners used to visit the shelter home and torture children. Besides, some of them were even trafficked abroad.”

Rahman, who is from Kolkata, has American citizenship, and had converted to Christianity, police said, according to PTI.

In August, the Centre had asked all states and Union territories to inspect childcare institutions in their regions, after it was found that at least 34 minor girls were allegedly sexually abused at a shelter in Muzaffarpur, Bihar.