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Minor motherhood: Odisha govt under Opposition fire

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Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Feb 11:

In the wake of a minor tribal girl delivering a baby in an ashram school in Koraput district, the BJD government in Odisha came under fire from the Opposition MLAs in the state Assembly on Tuesday for failing to ensure the safety of inmates of ST-SC residential schools.

assembly uproar 2 (1)

The Opposition accused the state government of being a mute spectator while girls in residential schools under ST and SC development department in the state remained unsafe and insecure. Members made the allegation against the government while participating in a discussion on an adjournment notice given by Congress Chief Whip Tara Prasad Bahinipati.

Describing the incident of a 12-year-old girl giving birth to a baby in a school in Jeypore area as shocking and unfortunate, Bahinipati demanded resignation of the ST and SC development minister on moral grounds.

Expressing concern over sexual exploitation of inmates in sevashrams and ashram schools for girl students, Congress members Prafulla Majhi, Krushnachandra Sagaria and Kailash Chandra Kulesika alleged gross mismanagement in these schools.

Besides the lack of proper security and safety mechanisms, the inmates suffered due to lack of safe drinking water and other basic facilities, they said.

Opposition members called for stringent action against the employees of schools wherever dereliction of duty was found.

Underlining the need for proper arrangements for safety and security of girls studying in the residential schools meant for tribal students, ruling BJD members Pramila Mallik and Padmanabh Behera sought deployment of adequate manpower in these schools.

Replying to the discussion, ST and SC development minister Lal Bihari Himirika said the government had taken a number of steps to ensure the safety of inmates of schools under his department.

The minister told reporters outside the House that the Headmaster and Hostel Superintendent of the school have been arrested by the police.

However,  the local sessions court on Monday granted bail to the suspended headmaster and superintendent of the sevashram school where the incident had taken place.

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