Orissa speaker accused of sexual harassment, chaos in house

March 26th, 2008 - 2:24 pm ICT by admin  


Bhubaneswar, March 26 (IANS) A woman employee of Orissa’s assembly has accused Speaker Maheswar Mohanty of sexual harassment, prompting the Congress to repeatedly disrupt the house Wednesday as it demanded a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). Denying the allegation, Mohanty told IANS: “I am ready for any probe.”

Gayatri Panda, 29, who is the first and only assistant lady marshal in the assembly and was recently suspended for negligence of duty, however, stuck to her guns and said: “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.

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

The charges shook the house when it assembled for question hour. As the house met, Mohanty made a statement denying the charges.

Mohanty, who opted for a house committee probe, also said that he would not chair the assembly until the investigation ended.

But the Congress was unwilling to back down. The resultant pandemonium meant that no business could be conducted in the pre-lunch session and the house had to be adjourned several times by the speaker and deputy speaker.

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