A former inmate of a government-funded shelter home for girls here has alleged that a co-resident was beaten to death and buried in the premises when she resisted sexual exploitation, and several other girls were raped, prompting the Bihar police to dig up the courtyard to look for the body.
“Nothing incriminating could be found from the spot identified by one of the former inmates of the shelter home where, she had claimed, one girl was buried after being beaten to death,” Muzaffarpur Senior Superintendent of Police Harpreet Kaur told PTI.
The excavation has been stopped and the pit has been filled up. A sample of the debris collected from the spot will be sent for forensic tests, she said.
More than 40 girls were lodged at the shelter home which was sealed in June this year when an FIR was lodged in the light of a social audit report which suggested that inmates were being sexually exploited.
The NGO running the shelter home has been blacklisted. All the girls have been shifted to shelter homes in other districts while the premises here have been sealed, the police officer said.
Medical reports suggest that over half of them may have had sexual intercourse at some point of time, she said, adding, “Altogether 10 people, including the district child protection officer, women staff members of the shelter home have been arrested so far.”
The SSP said the girl’s statement, which was recorded before a magistrate, had been later corroborated by two other inmates.
“The (excavation) operation was conducted in presence of all the three girls,” Kaur said, adding, “They are in the age group of 10 to 12 years. Their statements so far have not been very coherent. However, we have carried out the investigations based on whatever inputs we had.”
She also said that during investigation the police had come across complaints that six girls had gone missing from the shelter home between 2013 and May this year.
“We have seized the registers of the shelter home and will try to trace the whereabouts of these missing girls,” the police officer said.
The incident drew sharp criticism from political parties in the state.
The opposition RJD raised the issue at the state assembly and legislative council and demanded a CBI inquiry into the allegations of sexual exploitation of girls at the shelter home.
Raising the demand of a CBI inquiry, leader of the opposition in the Assembly Tejashwi Yadav alleged that the scandal involved many “well connected people” whom the Nitish Kumar government was trying to shield.
Opposition leader in the Legislative Council Rabri Devi too raised the issue in the Upper House.
Speaking to reporters outside the House, both Tejashwi Yadav and Rabri Devi alleged, “Many safedposh (white collared) people were involved in the Muzaffarpur scandal and they enjoy proximity to the ruling dispensation. A CBI inquiry should be ordered so that the accused are not able to influence the investigation.”
Yadav said that the Muzaffarpur incident will be highlighted by them as one of the “many failures” of the Nitish Kumar government during the state-wide “cycle yatra” scheduled to commence later this week.
“This regime has failed on all fronts be it law and order or relief to drought-affected farmers,” Yadav said.