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Tuesday 7 April 2020

Muzaffarpur shelter scandal: Brajesh Thakur guilty

The scandal had grabbed headlines after a Tata Institute of Social Sciences named Brajesh Thakur, close to the Bihar government, as the main accused in its report

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The Saket court of Delhi has found the main accused Brajesh Thakur guilty in the scandal of the Muzaffarpur shelter home of Bihar. The court found 19 of the 20 accused guilty of sexual abuse.

The court will announce the punishment on 28 January.

The inmates of a shelter home that ran under an NGO called Sewa Sankalp Evam Vikas Samiti at Muzaffarpur, Bihar, were sexually abused, raped and tortured. A medical examination confirmed the sexual abuse of 34 out of 42 inmates living at the shelter.

A first information report was lodged against 12 people on 31 May 2018. Thakur was the chief of the state-funded NGO. He ran several other NGOs and a Hindi newspaper called Pratah Kamal. Because of the political connections of Thakur and the involvement of government officials and the apparent delay in investigation and clearance for a CBI intervention, the opposition and the Supreme Court slammed the Bihar government.

Thakur was accused of sexual exploitation of minor girls and young women, which the court found to be correct. The case is related to the rape of minor girls and women in the shelter home of Bihar. On the order of the Supreme Court, the hearing of the case was conducted in the Saket district court of Delhi.

The Muzaffarpur scandal had grabbed news headlines after Tata Institute of Social Science released a report where Brajesh Thakur figured as the main accused. Thakur is known to be close to the Bihar government.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had in 2018 expressed anguish over the Muzaffarpur shelter home sex scandal and stressed on the need to develop institutional mechanisms to prevent such incidents from recurring. The opposition rocked the state with demonstrations and strikes in protest of the assaults on women and girls.

The court framed charges against 20 accused, including Thakur, under POCSO, sections of rape and criminal conspiracy. The CBI had made Thakur the main accused in the case. The investigating agency said in its charge sheet filed in the court that Thakur ran the shelter home where the girls were raped.

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