Image for representational use only. Image Courtesy : NDTV
Nearly 100 hours after she escaped from a shelter home in Mokama, Bihar, there is no trace of the 16-year-old girl who is also a prime witness in the Muzaffarpur shelter home rape case. This has raised some questions and speculations on whether she was eliminated to weaken the Muzaffarpur shelter home rape case in order to save some powerful people involved in the case because her deposition in the court as a key witness would have exposed them.
It is important to note that this is the same girl who in her confessional statement had allegedly revealed the names of several men, including top government officers and powerful politicians who used to regularly visit Muzaffarpur shelter home.
“She had shocked police officers during the probe when she informed that the main accused Brajesh Thakur often took her and some other girls out of the shelter home to unknown places where his guests sexually exploited them,” a police officer, who was part of probe initially, told NewsClick.
Also Read: Muzaffarpur Shelter Home Case: Court Orders CBI Probe Against Nitish Kumar
What has given a twist is that six out of the seven girls were recovered by the police from a village in Darbhanga within 24 hours, except her, who is still missing. She belongs to Dinajpur in West Bengal.
Police have repeatedly claimed in the last two days that search is on to trace her whereabouts and raids are being carried to recover her. But they have failed to make any breakthrough in the case so far.
The Opposition leaders including Left parties and leaders have raised the issue of her mysterious disappearance as a part of well-designed conspiracy. Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) state secretary Kunal said, “Why six of the seven girls who escaped together were recovered by police except one, who happened to be the main witness in Muzaffarpur shelter home case? The state government, particularly Chief Minister Nitish Kumar should explain as to why and how it happened.”
Bihar Director General of Police (DGP) Gupteshwar Pandey has already admitted that girls had not escaped but that they were helped by male staff in their running away from the shelter home in Mokama on Friday late night.
Kunal said that the Supreme Court, which is monitoring the ongoing CBI probe into Muzaffarpur Shelter home rape case, should take cognizance of the incident and it should be brought under the ambit of the ongoing CBI probe. He also said that if there is no trace of the girl, then the CPI (ML) will stage a protest across the state on March 2 demanding a probe into the incident.
Awadhesh Kumar, the state secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), Bihar, said, “It surprised one and all that how it was known to some people with vested interest that a key witness in the Muzaffarpur shelter home rape case was staying in a shelter home in Mokama. Strict confidentiality had been maintained on the whereabouts of the girls from Muzaffarpur shelter home who were victims of sexual abuse. Their location was a close secret, known to CBI, top officials of Bihar Social Welfare department and some top police officers only.”
Also Read: Sorry State of Bihar Shelter Homes Exposed Again as 7 Girls Escape
Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Tejashwi Yadav said, “These girls were made to escape and one girl, who is a witness, is still missing. This is part of a big conspiracy to save someone powerful. It is for Nitish Kumar to explain how girls from a shelter home were made to escape and six girls were recovered but one girl disappeared.”
According to police officials at the police headquarters in Patna, seven specially formed teams are searching for her in Bihar and West Bengal for last two days. “A team was sent to her native village but she was not found there,” a police official said.
Muzaffarpur Shelter Home Sexual Exploitation Case
Earlier this month, nearly 10 days after the Supreme Court transferred the trial in the Muzaffarpur shelter home case related to the alleged sexual abuse of 34 minor girls from Bihar to Delhi, a special Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) court in Muzaffarpur had directed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to conduct a probe against Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and two senior IAS officers.
The alleged sexual abuse of 34 minor girls at the Muzaffarpur shelter home run by an NGO run by key accused in the case, Brajesh Thakur, came to light in May 2018 after a social audit report prepared by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) went public, after which the Bihar Social Welfare Department filed an FIR.
Also Read: Bihar Shelter Homes Scandal: TISS Report Depicts the Shocking State of Affairs
The matter was handed over to the CBI in July last year. After hue and cry by the Opposition and media reports that her husband had close links with main accused Brajesh Thakur, Bihar Social Welfare Minister Manju Verma was forced to resign.
Thakur has since been shifted to a jail in Patiala following the order of the Supreme Court even as the other accused, including his close aides and some government officials, are lodged in jails in Patna and Muzaffarpur.
The apex court had recently also directed the CBI to take over the probe into allegations of sexual abuse at all such shelter homes across the state.