Woman marshal slaps Orissa speaker with harassment case

March 27th, 2008 - 7:51 pm ICT by admin  

Bhubaneswar, March 27 (IANS) A woman marshal of Orissa’s legislative assembly Thursday filed a police complaint against Speaker Maheswar Mohanty, alleging sexual harassment. A group of women social activists handed over a written complaint by 29-year-old Gayatri Panda to the police.

“The police have received the complaint and will take appropriate steps,” Additional Superintendent of Police B.N. Guru said.

Panda, who is the first and only assistant woman marshal in the state assembly and was recently suspended for negligence of duty, Wednesday alleged that Mohanty wanted sexual favours from her.

“I have been working in the assembly since 2001 but I have never faced such humiliation. Mohanty wanted sexual favours from me. When I did not show interest, he started taking vindictive action against me,” Panda told IANS, adding that he used to send his driver to her residence late in the night to fetch her.

According to Panda, she had lodged a written complaint with the secretary of the assembly Feb 21 but he did not take any steps.

In her police complaint, Panda said she could not go to the police station as unknown people had been threatening her. She alleged that the speaker often made vulgar gestures and approached her for sexual gratification through his staff.

She also claimed that she was deliberately engaged in the assembly when official duty hours were over, a police official told IANS on condition of anonymity.

“We have lodged the complaint in a station diary but are yet to register it as a first information report as we need to verify the signature of the complainant. We are trying to contact her,” the official said.

The issue rocked the assembly for the second day Thursday with the opposition Congress demanding Mohanty’s resignation and refusing to let the house function.

Although Mohanty denied the allegation and opted for a probe by the house, Congress legislators refused to back off and demanded a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) inquiry.

Wednesday evening, state Parliamentary Affairs Minister Raghunath Mohanty convened an all-party meeting to decide on the mode of inquiry into the allegation but the meeting was indecisive.

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