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CBI takes over probe into rapes at Muzaffarpur shelter home case

Investigators believe the girls were raped after sedatives were given to them under the garb of deworming almost every night.

india Updated: Jul 30, 2018 12:53 IST
HT Correspondents
HT Correspondents
Hindustan Times, New Delhi/Patna
Muzaffarpur shelter home,Bihar shelter home,Muzaffarpur
An eye witness shows the spot where a girl was allegedly beaten and killed by a staff member at a state-funded shelter home, in Muzaffarpur.(PTI Photo)

A Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) team arrived in Bihar on Sunday to take over the probe into alleged sexual abuse at a government-funded shelter home in Muzaffarpur district, from where 42 girls were rescued earlier this month.

Chief minister Nitish Kumar had recommended the probe after opposition parties accused the government of shielding the accused.

An official familiar with the initial police investigation said on Sunday that the girls were raped after sedatives were given to them under the garb of deworming medication almost every night.

Police have found that 34 of the girls rescued from the shelter were sexually exploited. Two other girls could not be medically examined because of their poor health.

“The case has been registered against officers and employees of Balika Grih (the shelter home)... It is alleged that officials/employees of girls’ children home run by Seva Sankalp Evam Vikas Samiti (a non-governmental organisation) used to mentally, physically and sexually exploit the children residing at the said children’s home,” said a CBI spokesperson.

The state government had roped in the Samiti to run the short-stay home.

Earlier, Muzaffarpur’s Mahila (women) police station had registered a case under the Indian Penal Code’s sections related to criminal conspiracy, rape and common intention to commit a crime and the stringent Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. The CBI has now re-registered the case to take over the probe.

The abuse came to light in February after Mumbai’s Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) conducted a social audit of 110 shelter homes in Bihar. TISS found girls had been ill-treated in at least six of the shelter homes including in Muzaffarpur, where they were also sexually exploited.

The first case was registered after initial medical examinations confirmed at least 21 girls had been abused. Some of the girls have recorded their statements before a magistrate as well.

So far 10 people, including the shelter in-charge Brajesh Thakur, have been arrested.

Some of the girls alleged that one of them was killed after she resisted an attempt to sexually assault her. Police looked for her body at the shelter home campus after digging its compound, but nothing was found.

The girls have told doctors they were given deworming tablets every night after dinner, which investigators believe were sedatives. The girls would go off to sleep after having the tablets and often wake up with abdominal or vaginal pain, said investigators.

Doctors found no injury marks on the external genitalia of the girls.

Old injury marks were found on their forehands, which the girls claimed were self-inflicted out of anger.

A Muzaffarpur court had ordered constitution of a medical board to examine the girls.

First Published: Jul 29, 2018 13:26 IST