The shelter home for girls in Muzaffarpur’s Sahu Road was to serve as a centre to provide protection to the females, rendered victims by unfavourable circumstances. But as their luck would have it, they survived the desperate circumstances in their personal lives, but were made to go through hellish period inside the government-run shelter home here in Muzaffarpur.
In a frightening revelation, it has emerged that not only were the girl inmates of the shelter home were routinely raped, but some of them were even killed and buried within the premises of the centre. Suspicions were first raised few months ago, when chillings details of sexual violence came to light during a social audit conducted by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai.
The report of the audit was submitted to the social welfare department, which is responsible for running the shelter home in question. The department then directed the local officials to lodge a complaint.
The district administration on Monday began digging the premises after at least one inmate was recently murdered and buried inside the compound. Muzaffarpur district magistrate Mohd Sohail said that the authorities had started digging work at Balika Grih, a short-stay home for girls.
Muzaffarpur Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Harpreet Kaur said that an inmate had recorded her statement before a judicial magistrate recently as required under the law.
The SSP said two girls who had alleged that a girl was buried after she was raped and killed were present at the digging site. “It was they (the two girls) who had identified the place at Balika Grih, where a girl is allegedly buried,” Kaur was quoted by IANS.
According to another official, efforts are on to exhume the bodies of girls who were allegedly killed after being raped and buried there. “The work is being carried out under the supervision of an executive magistrate. The local court had on Saturday allowed the district to carry out the digging,” an official was quoted as saying.
The existing inmates have been shifted to Patna and Madhubani. Medical reports of 16 out of 21 girls have confirmed rape while the remaining reports are still awaited.
The tragedy has become a dominating topic of political battle in the state as Tejashwi Yadav, a former deputy chief minister of Bihar and functioning chief of RJD, launched a tirade against the state’s Nitish Kumar government. Yadav told ANI that the owner of the shelter home had close links with the ruling party, the JDU. He said, “Owner of the NGO that runs the shelter home is close to Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and had even campaigned for him in the elections.”
Yadav also tweeted, “The main accused and owner of NGO who runs the shelter home wherein 40 minor girls were repeatedly raped was awarded as the member of Press accreditation committee by IPRD department held by CM Nitish Kumar. CM Nitish Kumar must tell who is protecting the culprit? (sic)”
His other tweets alleged that Kumar was aware of the goings on at the shelter home since March this year. Yadav wrote, “In rarest of rare case of rape in Bihar, 40 minor girls of 7 to 17 yrs were repeatedly RAPED under one roof for months in a state sponsored shelter home. Even a girl was MURDERED & BURIED in same premises. The patron of NGO is close to who’s who of govt & even campaigned with CM.
“Since March, Bihar Govt is aware abt repeated rapes committed against 40 minor inmates of Muzaffarpur Balika Shelter home by politicians, officials for years! Many had forced abortions! No action has been taken but cover up is on at war footing! Nation has abandoned its girls!”
Yadav’s mother and former Bihar Chief Minister, Rabri Devi, too demanded a CBI inquiry into the horrific incident of Muzaffarpur. She alleged that the state government led by Nitish Kumar was reluctant to act against the accused. “The government has been moving slow to save some people,who have close connection with the ruling party and the government,” she said.
Alarming rise in crime against women
The latest revelation comes amidst data suggesting that there has been an alarming rise in the crimes against women in Bihar under the current government. According to the state government records, 127 minors and women were raped in the first three months of 2018 and the figures almost doubled by June end.
Ironically, on Monday, a nine-year-old girl was reported to have been gang-raped and killed with her minor brother in Muzaffarpur. Their killers had later dumped bodies in the river.
Last month, in an appalling development, a doctor was tied to a tree as nearly 20 goons in Bihar’s Gaya district took turn to gang rape his wife and 15-year-old daughter in front of him. The incident had sent shock waves across the state with opposition slamming Kumar’s ‘tall claims’ on improved law and order in Bihar.
Earlier this month, we reported how a class 10 student in Bihar was repeatedly gang-raped by 15 students in the school’s toilet for seven months. When she complained about her sexual assault to her principal, he too raped her with two other teachers.
Many have alleged that the latest spike in crime rate was fast pushing the state into utter lawlessness.