Allegations that 34 minor girls were raped for months in a Muzaffarpur shelter home have left Indians reeling; this is just one of a series of horrifying rape cases reported this year.
In the Muzaffarpur case, girls aged between 7 and 17 have alleged that they were raped and sexually assaulted in the home. Most of them suffer from speech-impairment. The police say they were given sedatives with dinner and then raped at night.
The case came to light when Bihar’s social welfare department filed an FIR based on a social audit of the shelter home, conducted by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai (TISS).
The status report of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on the Muzaffarpur shelter home sexual abuse case reveals that residents living in the neighbourhood were probably aware of the crime but did not speak out because of the “apparent terror of Brajesh Thakur” who heads the NGO running the home.
A bench of justices MB Lokur and Deepak Gupta perused the CBI’s report on the progress and noted this revelation. Recording this in its order, the bench directed the CBI to look into the antecedents, connections and the influence of Thakur.
“It appears that Brajesh Thakur, in-charge of the NGO Sewa Sankalp Evam Vikas Samiti, is a very influential person and people in the neighbourhood are scared of him and not able to make complaint against him. In fact, it has come out that people heard screaming by the girls in the shelter home but did not bring it to the notice of anybody because of the apparent terror of Brajesh Thakur,”.
The CBI was ordered to seize records of Bihar’s social welfare department and investigate the transfer of eight girls from the shelter home after a Tata Institute of Social Sciences audit report exposed the alleged sexual abuse of the inmates in May this year. The report did not clarify why the girls were transferred.
Medical examination confirmed sexual abuse of 34 of the 42 inmates.
“The transfer seems to suggest that the social welfare department of Bihar was aware of the unsavoury activities in the shelter home that may have been the reason for the transfer of the victim girls,” the court ordered, seeking the state’s explanation.
An another CBI probe team Headed by Central Bureau of Investigation DIG Abhay Kumar, the team comprising a number of armed commandoes reached the residence on Sahu Road in Muzaffarpur, where the shelter home and the office of the Hindi daily ‘Pratah Kamal’ owned by Thakur, the main accused in the sex scandal, are also situated.
After entering the premises, the commandoes locked the main gate of the premises from inside, preventing entry of media-persons and a number of other curious onlookers.
The CBI team is understood to have inspected the shelter home, after getting its seal opened, and collected documents and other items it found to be of value in the investigation.
The CBI team is also understood to have interrogated Thakur’s son Rahul Anand, in whose name the Hindi daily is registered and who holds the post of its editor.
CBI sleuths, accompanied by forensic experts, also inspected the courtyard, which was dug up last month by the police, following allegations by inmates that one of the girls was beaten to deathby staff members of the shelter home a few years ago and her body was buried at the spot.
The FIR in the case was registered on May 31 against 11 people, including Thakur. The NGO running the shelter home in Muzaffarpur was blacklisted and the girls were shifted to shelter homes in Patna and Madhubani.
Women staff members of the shelter home and Thakur were among those who were arrested by the police in connection with the case.