As many as 25 women home guards serving in Surat city on Friday accused the two officials of physical, mental and sexual harassment, and sent an application to Surat police commissioner Satish Sharma, urging him to look into the matter.
A copy of the complaint against Somnath Singh Gherwal, Officer in Commanding, and Bhavna Kanthariya, Platoon Sergeant, was also sent to Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and Minister of State for Home Pradeepsinh Jadeja.
Earlier, a commanding officer of the Surat Home Guards and his female assistant were suspended Monday, following allegations of harassment levelled against them by 25 women. Taking the allegations on a serious note, Deputy home guard commandant Virendra Singh Rana ordered the suspension of both the accused, Somanth and Bhavna.
One of the complainants, Anjana Nayka had submitted a similar complaint against Gherwal to the Surat city home guard command Dr Praful Shiroya, a year ago, requesting him to take action against him for harassing her while on duty.
According to The Indian Express, Nayka, in the complaint, had said that she has been working with the Surat Home guards for the last nine years. She alleged that Gherwal had called her to his house, where he stays alone and asked her to do household chores. According to her complaint, when she refused to do the work, she was posted at a place far from her house.
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Nayka submitted another report to Surat city Home Guard commandant on September 8 this year, urging him to take action against Gherwal as no action had been taken against him thus far.
Nayka said “We want justice from the competent authority. The accused Somnath has a good influence on our organization because of which no action has been taken against him till now. We are waiting to get justice.”
Another home guard Mangla Bagle said, “We are ready to give our statements against Somnath Gherwal and Bhavna Kanthariya, but we wish that actions should be taken against them. He used to come to my duty place and give compliments, touch me and force me to accompany him for long rides on his bike. He did this at least five times in the last one and a half year. But we all knew about his intentions so we never surrendered ourselves.”
Home guard commandant General Gujarat, P B Gondia said, “The allegations levelled on Somanth Gherwal and Bhavnaben Kanthariya are serious. We have suspended them till further orders. We have also sent our teams to Surat to inquire into the allegations and prepare a report. We will take our decision based on the report.”