Horrific cases of gang rapes and atrocities on vulnerable sections of people have become an everyday phenomenon in Bihar. To register a protest against the growing exploitation of Women and Dalits and against the ‘institutional’ sexual abuse, Left parties including CPI, CPI(M), CPI(ML), SUCI(C) and RSP have jointly called for ‘Bihar Bandh’ on August 2.
Recently, a horrific tale of repeated sexual abuse of girls came to light after Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) put forward a report on social audit of shelter homes across Bihar. Inmates of a shelter home in Muzzaffarpur opened up to the volunteers of TISS during the audit and told them that they were repeatedly raped by operators and visitors of the shelter home. According to numerous reports, a total of 34 of the 44 girls who were residing in Muzzaffarpur’s ‘Balika Gruh’ (shelter home) had underwent the brutal sexual assault.
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Under pressure from various quarters, the BJP- JD(U) government led by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, handed over the case to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on July 26. Left parties are demanding that the CBI probe should be monitored by Patna High Court. So far, of the 11 identified accused persons, 10 have been arrested including the owner of the shelter home, Brajesh Thakur. The Left party leaders are also demanding the immediate dismissal of state social welfare minister Manju Verma, since her husband’s name has surfaced in relation to this case.
Earlier this month, another incident of gang rape was reported when a 9th standard girl of a private school in Saran District’s Ekta town revealed to the state police, the ordeal of how she was continuously blackmailed and raped by her school principal, two teachers and 15 schoolmates for months.. In her complaint, the girl told that five students raped her first in the school toilet in December last year. When the girl went to complain about the incident to the principal, she was blackmailed and continuously assaulted by the principal and later by other students and two teachers for a period of seven months. There are similar reports on incidents of sexual assault pouring in from all corners of the state.
Numerous reports point out that the Dalits and poor people are being evicted from their place of living and are being rendered homeless at different places of Bihar including the state capital.
On July 1, houses of more than 100 families from Musahar community who are identified as Maha-dalits were demolished by government officials in Mogala village, Khutauna block of Madhubani District. Since then, the victims have been taking shelter in Khutauna High School and are leading their protest demanding the state government to immediately provide them with proper housing facilities and livelihood.
Similarly, around 60 Dalit houses were demolished recently by a landlord in Saraiya, Muzzaffarpur. On July 26-27, CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Subhashini Ali and the party’s state secretary Awadhesh Kumar, along with other leaders, visited the homeless victims and led a campaign to join the August 2 protest.
Awadhesh Kumar claimed that the state government failed to check on the growing atrocities on women, Dalits and oppressed sections. Referring to the land evictions, Kumar told Newsclick: “There seems to be a nexus between feudal landlords including politicians and Police who are forcefully evicting Dalits and poor from their place of living by threatening and other illegal means in order to take over the costlier lands into their control.” He added that the left parties are in support of the victims and are organising them to claim their rights. Addressing a press conference Subhashini Ali demanded the state government to immediately rehabilitate the homeless Dalits.
On the other side, Dalits organisations across the country have given a call for “Bharat Bandh” on August 9 in protest against the BJP led Central government’s anti-Dalit policies in their regime. They are demanding the central government to restore the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, which was diluted by a Supreme Court judgment in March earlier this year.