Brajesh Thakur, an accused in the Muzaffarpur shelter home abuse case, owned a daily called Pratah Kamal that received Rs 30 Lakh per year in form of advertisements from Bihar Government, according to the reports. While Thakur barely printed 300 copies and distributed it among government officials, he had claimed a circulation of 60,000 across the district.
Thakur is booked with 10 other accused in the shelter home abuse case in Muzaffarpur, where the inmates, aged between 7 years and 14 years, alleged that they were constantly abused and raped during their stay. The victims also alleged that they were not put in touch with their family members despite repeated requests made to the shelter home administration. He was also booked on Tuesday after a complaint by the Social Welfare Department of the state, after 11 women were found to be missing from another shelter home run by his NGO Seva Sankalp Evam Vikas Samiti.
In its supervision report to the Central Bureau of Investigation, the Bihar Police stated that the local daily was registered at the address of the shelter home. It added that Thakur did not have the infrastructure and staff to print the number of copies he claimed to print. Local reports said that Thakur's staff would personally deliver the copies to the government offices to maintain that the daily was in circulation.
However, local journalists have raised questions over the regular flow of the advertisements to the daily. Talking to Newsclick, Gyaneshwar Vatsyayan, a veteran journalist, said that Brajesh Thakur has been a beneficiary of "IPRD-DAVP Ka Khel". He was referring to the nexus of defunct newspapers who have been getting regular advertisements with the help of corrupt bureaucrats of Information Public Relations Department, Bihar and the Central government's Directorate of Advertisement and visual publicity.
Another senior journalist Santosh Singh, editor of Kashish News, said that it is very difficult for local newspapers to get advertisements on regular basis. Singh said, "He must be paying kickbacks to get advertisements of this scale. Governments have launched schemes to give support to the local newspapers, and Thakur used his influence to get money."
Thakur's influence can be gauged from the fact that he was not only an accredited journalist with Bihar government's IRPD, but was also a member of Press Accreditation Committee for three terms. Using his influence, Thakur initially tried to suppress the case by not letting the reports about the scandal out. "Being the president of Muzaffarpur Press Club, he used his contacts in different newspapers and channels to muzzle the reporting of the scandal," added Singh.