A shelter home in Bihar's Muzaffarpur is at the centre of an alleged sex scandal where the victims are minor inmates and the one of the abusers is the owner of the non-government organisation (NGO) operating it.
The alleged sexual exploitation in the facility was first highlighted in a social audit report submitted by Mumbai-based Tata Institute of Social Science (TISS), to Bihar's social welfare department in April.
In view of the report, an FIR was lodged on 31 May against 11 persons, including Brajesh Thakur, the owner of the NGO 'Seva Sankalp Evam Vikas Samiti' which ran the shelter home for destitute girls funded by the government.
What did the TISS report say?
The Bihar government had told TISS to conduct an audit of the government-funded shelter homes in August 2017.
The TISS report, which pointed at the sexual exploitation and abuse at six short-stay homes and 14 shelters, brought to notice the sexual abuse in the Muzaffarpur shelter home.
According to The Times of India, the audit report said that the home was found to be running in a "highly questionable manner" and several of its residents had reported "grave instances of violence". It also demanded further investigation and legal action into the allegations.
After the probe was launched, medical examinations of 34 of the 42 inmates of the shelter home confirmed they were sexually exploited.
India Today reported that TISS found almost all 110 government-funded institutions running in violation of the several schemes and the Juvenile Justice Act. The audit found that the girls at Muzaffarpur shelter home were locked up in their wards and had no access to open space.
The only time they were allowed to go outside their wards was to take their meals. There were no vocational training and recreation means provided to the girls. The report also pointed at abuse in boys' homes including those in Motihari Bhagalpur, Munger, and Gaya.
The 100-page report is yet to be made public.
What action has been taken so far?
Ten out of the 11 accused, including Thakur, were arrested on 3 June, and the police submitted the chargesheet against the 10 accused on July 26 before Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) court in Muzaffarpur. The social welfare department also blacklisted Thakur's NGO.
On 26 July, the government recommended a CBI inquiry into the matter.
On 3 August, the Supreme Court restrained the electronic media from showing, even in morphed form, images of the alleged victims of assault at the Muzaffarpur shelter home. It said that it was a cause for serious concern that the victims were interviewed a number of times and observed that they cannot be compelled to "relive the trauma" again and again.
The Bihar social justice department, which drew flak for delayed action in the matter, has suspended 14 officials so far.
The suspended officials include seven assistant directors of Child Protection Units, six district child protection officers and superintendent of a remand home for juvenile prisoners.
Social Welfare Minister Manju Verma is in the eye of the storm after her husband's name cropped up in the case.
On Sunday, Rajya Sabha MP and former Union minister CP Thakur demanded that Verma should resign taking moral responsibility for the incident.
Amid the Opposition's demand for the Verma's resignation, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said on Monday that if Verma is found involved or if anything is found against her in connection with the scandal, she may be asked "to go".
However, Bihar deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi said that no minister should resign "just because some people are giving statements".
With inputs from PTI
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Updated Date: Aug 06, 2018 18:14:55 IST