Bihar govt suspends six officials in Muzaffarpur shelter home rapes case
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Bihar govt suspends six officials in Muzaffarpur shelter home rapes case

All the officials, suspended with immediate effect, have been charged with “failure to take adequate legal action” with regard to “assault, indecent behaviour and other undesirable activities” at shelter homes within their respective areas of jurisdiction.

india Updated: Aug 05, 2018 16:13 IST
Arun Kumar, Hindustan Times, Patna
Muzaffarpur shelter home rape,Muzaffarpur rape,Bihar shelter home rapes
Activists hold placards as they take part in a protest over the sexual assault of girls at a state-run home in Bihar, near Bihar Bhawan in New Delhi on July 30.(AFP Photo)

The Bihar government has suspended six officials of the state social welfare department in connection with the sexual abuse of minors at a Muzaffarpur shelter home.

“The officials had failed to report undesirable activities and take timely corrective steps at shelter homes in Muzaffarpur as well as other places despite being flagged about it in a social and audit report by Koshis, a field-action project of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences,” a senior official said on the condition of anonymity.

The six, who were posted as assistant directors of child protection units in Muzaffarpur, Munger, Araria, Madhubani, Bhagalpur and Bhojpur districts, were charged with “negligence and dereliction of duty”. A notification for their suspension has been issued by the department.

The official said more heads are likely to roll as the investigation gains momentum in the coming days. Social welfare minister Kumari Manju Verma is also under pressure to resign, given her husband’s alleged involvement in the incident, he added.

Besides this, the government has started preparing a roadmap for complete restructuring of the department of social welfare to plug loopholes that unscrupulous non-governmental organisations allegedly took advantage of. It also plans to fill existing vacancies and make new contractual appointments in the department to enhance monitoring of such homes.

Read: Muzaffarpur shelter home rape: Accused used sex racket to get govt funds, says report

The official said the scandal highlighted gaping flaws in the system. “The guilty won’t be able to get away, considering that the CBI is probing the case. However, the larger issue now is to develop a robust monitoring mechanism to prevent such instances from recurring,” he added.

The official said the likes of main accused Brajesh Thakur were able to pull off the scandal due to lack of monitoring brought about by numerous vacancies in the social welfare department. “Two joint director posts and three deputy director posts are still vacant. There are only five assistants, as opposed to the sanctioned strength of 12. There is just one section officer. How can effective monitoring happen when the staff is spread this thin? The posts were sanctioned when Bihar had 10 to 15 shelter homes, but the number has now gone up to 110,” he added.

Social welfare department director Raj Kumar asserted that the government will do everything in its power to plug the loopholes. “After this incident, there is no room for delay. We are working on them,” he said.

Chief minister Nitish Kumar had broken his silence on the issue on Friday, condemning “certain individuals for committing heinous sins”.

“I have underlined the need for removing flaws in the system that allow such transgressions to happen. We need to be alert, and make every effort to develop a transparent mechanism to ensure that such incidents are discovered in time. Otherwise, the entire system will be defamed,” he said.

The matter is listed for hearing in the apex court on August 7.

First Published: Aug 05, 2018 13:03 IST