The Supreme Court has taken suo motu cognisance of the Bihar shelter home rape cases on Thursday, and has sought explanation from Nitish Kumar-led Bihar government and the Women and Child Development Ministry as to why neither body took action to stop minor girls from being raped in shelters home in Muzaffarpur.
A notice has been issued to both governments.
Reports said that the chargesheet in the case detailed a network of police, politicians, administration and criminals behind the racket that has been going on for around four years. The apex court has also banned electronic media from putting up images of minor girls, even in morphed or blurred forms, who were allegedly raped at the shelter homes in Muzaffarpur, ANI reported. The Supreme Court also barred the media from conducting any interviews with the minor victims, Bar and Bench reported.
The Supreme Court’s decision comes at a time when the Opposition leaders in Bihar have heaped criticism on the Nitish Kumar-led JD(U) for its inaction in the horrifying case. Over 40 minor girls and boys have been raped and sodomised over the last five months in multiple shelter homes in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur.
In the latest incident, according to The Times of India, Muzaffarpur police on Wednesday seized four boxes of condoms and medicines from the terrace of Swadhaar Grih, a shelter home from where 11 women were reportedly found missing. Officials from the Social Welfare Department, during an inspection of the home on 20 March, found the 11 women receiving various types of skill development training. However, on 9 June, the home was found locked, and the victims missing.
In a parallel incident, 34 minor girls were raped in a state-funded shelter home in Muzaffarpur called Balika Grih. A statement from one of the victims said that another girl was beaten to death after a disagreement with staff members, and buried in the shelter home premises. Police began the search for the body, but nothing has been dug up from the premises thus far.
The two shelter homes were run by an NGO, the Seva Sankalp Evam Vikash Samiti. According to India Today, the Seva Sankalp Samiti is an NGO owned and run by a man named Brijesh Thakur, who is also the primary accused in the case. These homes were to give destitute women vocational training, but the women were instead harassed and raped by shelter home officials. Two FIRs have been filed against Thakur after the two incidents, who owns three newspapers and has even contested the Bihar polls. He is now in judicial custody, and his NGO has been blacklisted.
The RJD, Congress, and the Communist Party of India took to the streets in Bihar to protest the situation. A procession, MLA Amit Kumar Tunna, was taken out by the National Students Union of India (NSUI) to protest against these incidents of sexual abuse. These left parties and groups are also demanding the resignation of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, said another report from India Today. The protesters forcibly tried to reach Kumar’s residence, causing the police to resort to lathicharge to disperse agitating members. The report added that governor of Bihar, Satya Pal Malik, had earlier sent letters to Kumar, terming the alleged sexual abuse of minor girls at a shelter home in Muzaffarpur as “heart-rending”, and suggested measures for preventing recurrence of such incidents in the future.
News credit : Firstpost