Storm over Muzaffarpur rape case

Storm over Muzaffarpur rape case

In a shocking instance the alleged sexual abuse of 34 women in a Muzaffarpur shelter home has rocked Nitish Kumar-ruled Bihar and united the opposition to stage a rally in New Delhi’s Jantar Mantar. The Opposition, led by Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Tejashwi Yadav, has also accused the ruling party of trying to save prime accused Brajesh Thakur.

The arms licences of Thakur, the main accused in the rape at a shelter home, have been suspended, a top official said.

The Muzaffarpur District Magistrate, Mohammad Sohail, said that a notification to suspend the arms licences has been issued. According to the official Thakur was issued arms licences years ago and there were a rifle and a pistol in his name.

Thakur along with nine others were arrested and jailed after an FIR was registered in the rapes case. The police have also filed a charge sheet against him and others in the case.

Meanwhile the Health Department has issued directions to the State Aids Control Society (BSACS) to terminate the services of Thakur's NGO, Seva Sankalp Evam Vikas Samiti, that was managing the shelter home.The social welfare department blacklisted the NGO soon after Thakur was named the prime accused in the case.

The Muzaffarpur horror came to light when the state Social Welfare Department filed an FIR based on a social audit of the home conducted by the Mumbai-based Tata Institute of Social Sciences. Charges of the girls being raped for months have left Bihar and indeed the country reeling. This comes after a series of such horrifying cases being reported this year -- in Kathua, in Unnao, and in Chennai.

In the Muzaffarpur case, girls, most of them speech-impaired victims, aged between 7 and 17, alleged that they were raped and sexually assaulted in the home.The police say they were given sedatives with dinner and then assaulted at night.

Thakur, who ran the home, also owned three newspapers and his PIB accreditation has also been cancelled. Reacting to the incidents, the Chief Minister, Nitish Kumar, went on the defensive and said that positive developments in the state should also be focussed upon. He said, ‘Also focus on the positive feed… you are only concerned about one or two negative incidents… whoever has committed a crime will go to jail… those who try to save them will also go to jail,’ he said.

This was in response to the opposition rallying on this issue to nail the Government. ‘We are not going to leave anyone… we have not done any sacrifices…if you want us to abuse you we can abuse… (look) what kind of people are abusing us,’ Nitish Kumar said.

Earlier, the Janta Dal (United) asserted that the Chief Minister would not resign and said it was ready for a Supreme Court-monitored probe into the matter and a senior leader, KC Tyagi, slammed the opposition leaders, including the Congress president, Rahul Gandhi, for attending the RJD-organised protest in Jantar Mantar. It was a ‘friendship day’ of parties seeking ‘political mileage’ from the ‘unfortunate and shameful incident’.

‘How can rape of young girls which has shamed us, be an issue for opposition parties to unite against the NDA government and the Nitish Kumar-led government in Bihar and demand his resignation,’ he was quoted as asking. ‘This politics over hapless victims is the most unfortunate thing.’

In letters sent to the Chief Minister, the state Governor, Satya Pal Malik, said the alleged sexual abuse at the shelter home was ‘heart-rending’, and he suggested measures for preventing the recurrence of such events.

Meanwhile the Supreme Court has sought responses from the Union and Bihar governments on the case and a two-judge bench restrained the electronic media from telecasting images of the alleged victims, even in a morphed form. It also directed the CBI to carry out a forensic examination of the shelter home.

The next hearing in the Supreme Court has been set for August 7.