Orissa speaker booked for sexual harassment

March 30th, 2008 - 12:00 pm ICT by admin  


Bhubaneswar, March 30 (IANS) Orissa police have registered a criminal case against assembly speaker Maheswar Mohanty for allegedly sexually harassing a woman employee of the house. The case was registered at the special women’s police station here Saturday night, a police official told IANS.

Gayatri Panda, 29, had accused Mohanty of sexual harassment Wednesday. But he was booked only after police got documents from the assembly to confirm the victim’s signature on a written complaint filed Thursday by some social activists on behalf of Panda.

Panda, who is the first and only assistant woman marshal in the state assembly and was recently suspended on a negligence of duty charge, had alleged in her complaint that Mohanty harassed her after she refused to oblige to sexual favours.

“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 had said.

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

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

Police have also sent her signature to the state forensic laboratory for further confirmation, the official said.

Women activists and opposition parties have been demonstrating in several towns, including Bhubaneswar, since Thursday, demanding Mohanty’s resignation.

The issue also rocked the assembly, with the opposition Congress refusing to let the house function.

Mohanty denied the allegations and opted for a probe by the house but opposition parties led by Congress were not ready for it.

The state government convened all-party meetings to decide on the mode of inquiry into the allegation but the meetings were inconclusive.

Leaders from opposition parties rather met Orissa Governor Muralidhar Chandrakant Bhandare and submitted a memorandum Friday, demanding the speaker’s resignation and an inquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

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