Washington/Bhubaneswar: A senior Indian Forest Service (IFS) officer Surendra Prasad Mohapatra, who is in the US on a training course, has been detained by police in Pennsylvania following a complaint of "sexual assault" by a woman staff at a hotel where he was staying.
    
The incident is reported to have happened on Tuesday night following which the officer was put under detention by the local police, sources said. Mohapatra is the Regional Chief Conservator of Forests at Sambalpur in Odisha.
     
The Indian Consulate in New York has rushed an official for legal assistance and look for bail for the Odisha-cadre officer.
     
According to Odisha government, Mohapatra was taken into police custody but said it was not exactly aware of the charges against him.
    
The state government said it was in touch with the Centre and the Indian Embassy in the US but could not establish contact with Mohapatra.
    
Mohapatra, who is said to be a 1985-batch IFS officer, was part of a group of 30 Indian officers visiting the US for a mid-career training programme at the Syracuse University in New York.
    
Environment minister Jayanti Natrajan has sought a detailed report on the incident, sources told in New Delhi. The sources said the ministry is taking steps to extend all possible legal assistance to the official.
     
Odisha's Forest and Environment Minister Debi Prasad Mishra described the incident as unfortunate.
    
"This is an unfortunate incident. We have received information regarding police taking Surendra Prasad Mohapatra, an IFS officer of Odisha cadre, into custody. The state government has been in touch with the Ministry of Environment and Forest and Indian Embassy," Mishra told reporters in Bhubaneswar.
     
Quoting one Bhargava, the Indian course coordinator for the US trip, Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (PCCF) P N Padhi said "Mr Mahapatra had a problem with his internet connection and asked the reception for help. A woman came to his room but was unable to fix it and so left."
    
However, about two hours later, the police turned up and arrested him after the woman reportedly filed a complaint, Padhi added.

(Agencies)

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