Minor girls ‘raped, molested’ in Sambalpur orphanage

Police arrested a 40-year-old man on Wednesday for allegedly sexually abusing minor girls of an orphanage in Naxapali, on the outskirts of Sambalpur town. The accused, identified as Upendra Das of Samatipur ( Bihar), was in charge of running the orphanage and had raped two minor girls twice and molested two other girls during the past one month, police said.

The administration has closed down the orphanage and shifted the inmates to other orphanages. Police registered a case u/s 376 against the accused, who has been forwarded to judicial custody.

The incident has created sharp reaction among locals, who asked the administration to keep a vigilant eye on such institutions which are functioning in the district in the name of social service.

“We arrested the accused after receiving a complaint against him. We have sent the victims for medical examination. We have closed down the orphanage and accommodated the inmates in other orphanages with the help of the district administration,” said Sambalpur SP Nikhil Kanodia.

According to him, police raided the orphanage after receiving the information from a retired lady doctor of Sambalpur town, who visits the orphanage on a regular basis. “She informed me about the crimes on Tuesday and immediately I rushed to the orphanage to probe the allegation. The victim girls revealed they were sexually abused and molested by the accused,” the SP said. The victims are in the age group of eight to 12 years. “Two of the victims said the accused raped them twice. We are waiting for the medical report to confirm the allegation,” the SP said.

Sources said the orphanage was started by one Arati Das of Punjab in the name of Deepajyoti Anathanshram at Naxapali, 7 km from Sambalpur town, two-and-a-half years ago. Though the orphanage was not recognized by the welfare department of the government, it was being operated with the help of donation from local people. The orphanage housed 16 girls and four boys.

The accused claimed to be the husband of Arati Das. He said they were married 10 years ago during their stay in Punjab. “He claimed to be the husband of Arati Das, who has been missing since the past one month. We have started a manhunt for Arati,” said Dhanupali police station IIC P K Rout.

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