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Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Muzaffarpur shelter home case: No red flag, social audit idea came up suddenly

Thakur knew people in position in Muzaffarpur district administration and was a member of the Bihar government’s accreditation committee — the government gave his newspaper advertisement without ever checking the number of copies it printed and sold.

Written by Santosh Singh | Patna | Updated: February 12, 2020 7:34:42 am
Muzaffarpur shelter case, Bihar shelter home case, Muzaffarpur shelter home case, Muzaffarpur shelter home, brajesh thakur Muzaffarpur shelter home, Muzaffarpur shelter home verdict Brajesh Thakur was a member of the Bihar government’s accreditation committee. (Express photo file)

Brajesh Thakur, who was on Tuesday sentenced to life imprisonment in the Muzaffarpur shelter home sexual abuse case, was seen as a respected man running a Hindi daily in north Bihar, and an NGO that housed a shelter home for girls.

Thakur knew people in position in Muzaffarpur district administration and was a member of the Bihar government’s accreditation committee — the government gave his newspaper advertisement without ever checking the number of copies it printed and sold.

The shelter case expose was, thus, more a “coincidental revelation”, according to the State Social Welfare Department’s Additional Chief Secretary Atul Prasad, who was a key person behind unearthing it.

Prasad told The Indian Express: “Mohammed Tarique from Tata Institute of Social Sciences had come to meet me in 2017 in connection with the rehabilitation and care concerns of a mentally challenged beggar, who was allegedly raped and later gave birth to a child. During the conversation, I asked whether his team could do a social audit.”

Prasad insisted on a social audit of all 110 shelter homes, run by the state government and NGOs. “We only facilitated their access to shelter homes. We gave them two mandates: to find examples of best practices, and find ways to improve the running of these shelter homes,” he said.

During routine conversation, he said, some girls opened up and reported that they had met physical abuse and torture. “Tarique’s team was taking extensive notes and finally concluded that 15 home inmates had reported physical abuse, torture and mental harassment. He gave us a detailed report. We toned down the language and kept the findings as they were,” Prasad said,

Prasad said: “Despite criticism, we prepared the report — I wrote its foreword and called an all-Bihar meeting and got the first FIR lodged in the case in May 2018.” Tarique said: “We just hope the children are able to rebuild their lives and have a peaceful future.”

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