A special POCSO court Saturday directed the CBI to record the statement of an accused doctor in the Muzaffarpur shelter home abuse case and look into allegations made by him against several senior government officials, including Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.
Dr Ashwani Kumar, who has been accused of administering sedatives to the victims, filed a petition before the POCSO court alleging that the CBI is “suppressing facts” and that the investigative agency had recorded his statement but did not incorporate it in the chargesheet.
Hearing the petition, Muzaffarpur POCSO court in-charge judge Manoj Kumar directed the CBI under 164 of the CrPC to look into the prayers of the petitioner.
Appearing on behalf of the jailed doctor, Muzaffarpur lawyer Sudhir Kumar Ojha, told The Indian Express: “Our main prayer before the court was to record the statement of Dr Ashwini Kumar before the judicial magistrate under 164 of CrPC. Even though CBI had questioned the doctor, his version was not produced before the court and the chargesheet was filed. The doctor had told the CBI about periodic reports being submitted by the then senior government officials from Muzaffarpur district administration and social welfare department. When there had been periodic reports by the Child Working Committee and they did not report any discrepancy and sexual abuse or harassment, it meant they had not been doing their job properly because a subsequent report by Tata Institute of Social Sciences revealed sexual abuse and the report also formed the basis of FIRs.”
The petitioner requested a CBI probe against the senior officials for not “monitoring periodic government reports”, especially by the Child Working Committee, on the functioning of Muzaffarpur shelter home.
Ojha said Dr Kumar had told the CBI that if the case would be probed thoroughly, so many officials from the top to bottom could face action. “The CM, being head of government, cannot escape responsibility. Let CBI record Dr Kumar’s statement and investigate on basis of facts including sundry government inspection reports of children homes,” said Ojha.
On November 20, the CBI had arrested Dr Kumar, a private MBBS practitioner working at Kudani town, who used to “inject sedatives” to female home inmates at the shelter home. Kumar used to visit the shelter home, run by Brajesh Thakur, “on call in name of medical check-ups”. Thakur, the main accused in the case, is currently lodged in jail.
Most of the 32 girls had said, in their statement before a judicial magistrate recorded on the direction of the POCSO court, that a doctor used to visit the shelter home often and they would lose consciousness or become semi-conscious after being injected.
The CBI narrowed down on the doctor’s “dubious role” after the police had found several types of sedatives from the girls home.
CBI spokesperson Abhishek Dayal had confirmed the doctor’s arrest to The Indian Express. CBI sources said they had been narrowing down on Dr Kumar’s role for a while. “As we did not get full medical records of inmates and did not find exact explanations on why he used to be called and what types of injections he would give, we have enough reasons of him being complicit with Brajesh Thakur. It is quite possible that several girls were abused after being injected sedatives.”
It has been alleged that Thakur, who had been doing some social work in Kudani, knew Dr Kumar very well and “only confided in him” to conduct check-up of girls.
CBI had also visited Muzaffarpur’s SKM College and Hospital and sought pathology and post-mortem records of the last 10 years. The CBI has been seeking these records after allegations of unreported deaths of some girls who lived in the shelter home.
On October 4, a CBI team had dug up a place at a cremation ground identified by main accused Thakur’s driver and found parts of bones and skull. Though the address of the missing girl could not be matched, the CBI takes bones as “very important evidence”, which can be matched once the investigating agency is able to trace parents of the girl.
Six girls had gone missing from Thakur’s shelter home in 2013, regarding which a complaint had been made at Town police station but the matter was converted into full-fledged FIR only in July 2018 after medical reports had confirmed sexual abuse of over 30 girls living at Muzaffarpur shelter home. All inmates had been shifted to other shelters in May, a month after a report of Tata Institute of Social Sciences had suggested sexual abuse at least six shelter homes including one at Muzaffarpur.