A fresh medical report of the victims from the shelter homes in Muzaffarpur has confirmed the rape of at least 35 out of 44 minor girls. The details emerging in the case suggest that the entire tragedy took place in connivance with the district administration officials and monitoring agencies.
A few victims, between the age of 7 years and 14 years have identified Dilip Kumar Verma as one of the accused in the case. Verma was the Chairperson of the District Child Welfare Committee, and currently absconding. According to the local reports, the victims identified Verma in front of the Police, when they were shown the photographs, and referred to him as the "head sir".
The gory details of the incident were first revealed in the social audit report of Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. The contents of TISS's social audit report, accessed by Newsclick, not only show a dismal state of affairs at the shelter homes, but also put inmates in a coercive atmosphere.
Apart from Muzaffarpur, the report stated that Boys’ Children Home in Motihari, Munger, Bhagalpur and Gaya are also being run in violation of all norms.
"Serious physical violence and sexual abuse were reported by the residents of the Boy's Children Home in Motihari run by Nirdesh. One of the staff members was reported to be involved in severe physical violence. Another pattern of abuse, we encountered in this home involved the staff bearing all children when a child or a group of children made mistakes," stated the report.
It added, "The older boys were clubbed in for accommodation with the younger boys. Boys from both the groups reported sexual abuse and violence. This again, calls for immediate action by the concerned authorities at the district and state level."
The report also stated that the conditions at some of the shelter homes were coercive to the extent that the inmates have committed suicide to escape the pressure. Citing the example of Short Stay Home in Patna run by IKard, the report stated, "Several girls who have lost their way and ended up there but had the addresses and phone numbers of their homes reported not being put in touch with their families. One of the RTO's and the Accountant were reported to be verbally and physically abusive. One girl had reportedly committed suicide about a year ago, unable to cope up with the violent atmosphere."
The report also highlighted that the counselors, appointed to heal the inmates, have been involved in afflicting violence themselves. The residents, also suffering from mental illness, from Short Stay home in Motihari reported that their counselor frequently resorted to violence.
The trend of physical and verbal abuse remains unabated in shelter homes with active negligence of district administrations. Talking to Newsclick, Santosh Singh, Editor of Kashish News said that the Muzaffarpur incident could not have taken place without connivance of the district officials.
Singh said, "The shelter home was required to be examined by a committee of three High Court judges. A similar observation is required to be conducted by the officials of social welfare department once in a week. The visitors register at the short stay home state that it was regularly visited by the team, and it successfully got clearances months after months. How could not they unearth such horrific incidents? It is clear that such activities were carried out with "mili bhagat (connivance)".