Odisha sarpanch arrested for seeking sexual favour from Dalit woman

Odisha police on Thursday arrested a sarpanch on charges of molesting a 20-year-old Dalit woman of Kalahandi district and seeking sexual favours from her in lieu of providing her with a house under Pradhan Mantri Grameen Awas Yojana.

Police officials in Kalahandi said sarpanch of Salepali gram panchayat under Madanpur Rampur block of Kalahandi district, Ramesh Chandra Sahu was arrested on Thursday on rape and molestation charges as well sexually harassing a Dalit woman of his panchayat. Inspector of M Rampur police station, Gobind Chandra Majhi said a case under sections 376, 354(A), 354(B) and 341 of Indian Penal Code has been lodged against the accused sarpanch. Sahu was later produced in a local court which sent him to judicial custody.

The woman her complaint to the police on Wednesday said that Sahu had been harassing her and asking for sexual favours in order to facilitate a house under Pradhan Mantri Grameen Awas Yojana for her family. The victim’s parents are migrant workers in Gujarat’s Rajkot and she was staying with her three minor brothers in their house which was damaged during rains last year. She has applied for a new house under PMGAY.

“The sarpanch used to come to our house frequently and under the pretext of providing a PMAY house tried to win my confidence. On October 18, he came to our house when I was alone and tried to sexually assault me. However, I managed to drive him out of the house. He boasted that no one can do anything as he has powerful connections,” the woman stated in her FIR.

Soon after the woman lodged the complaint with police, some supporters of the sarpanch barged into the police station and attacked her. However, police rescued her and escorted her to a shelter home in Bhawanipatna town.

Under the Pradhan Mantri Grameen Awas Yojana, beneficiaries get Rs 1.2 lakh directly into their bank account for construction a 25 square metre pucca house. Beneficiaries can also avail of a loan upto Rs 70,000 under this scheme from lending institutions.

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