Red flags were raised, and ignored, in Muzaffarpur shelter rapes case

In November last year, Bihar child rights panel submitted a report to the district magistrate and social welfare department recommending immediate shifting of girls from there and making proper arrangements for them.

india Updated: Aug 02, 2018 13:27 IST
Arun Kumar
Arun Kumar
Hindustan Times, Patna
Muzaffarpur shelter home case,Bihar,Bihar govt
Thje site where a rape victim was allegedly buried at a government-run shelter home in Muzaffarpur.(PTI)

If the red flag raised last year by Bihar child rights commission had been acted upon, girls in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur shelter would have been spared the torture they suffered.

In November last year, a State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (BSCPCR) team, headed by its chairperson Dr Harpal Kaur, visited the shelter home, run by Seva Sankalp Evam Vikas Samiti, and detected serious irregularities.

“We could not make out the extent of malaise that is now emerging from there, but the girls did cry before me without opening up much, as the caretaker Madhu Kumari, who is now wanted in the case, was present and did not allow others to speak. She was interfering a lot and I had to ask her to keep mum, as the girls were virtually caged there,” said Kaur.

Kaur said she also submitted her report to the district magistrate and social welfare department recommending immediate shifting of girls from there and making proper arrangements for them.

“I also held a meeting with DM and all officials concerned. The girls did appear tormented, though they did not speak about sexual abuse then, may be out of fear. Still, seeing their condition, I did ask how the girls stayed there for beyond four months and why efforts were not made to unite them with their families,” she added.

Kaur said she and her team had started visiting all the children and girls’ shelter homes. “BSCPCR is a monitoring agency. We have started our inspection. Had the officials concerned acted when we raised the red flag in case of Muzaffarpur shelter home, things could have improved by now. The issue cropped up even at the recently held NCPCR meeting in Delhi also. There is a detailed mechanism for inspection and monitoring, which has not been followed. Now, we will do division and district-wise inspection,” she added.

When contacted the then DM of Muzaffarpur Dharmendra Singh said he wil try to find out what happened after the BSCPCR meeting. “I am presently in a meeting. I will have to see the file for this,” he added.

Earlier this year, the exercise of conducting social audit of child care institutions was initiated by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) in the light of the 2017 Supreme Court order in the matter of exploitation of children in orphanages in Tamil Nadu.

The SC had observed that “it is imperative that the process of conducting social audit must be taken up in right earnestness by the NCPCR as well as by each state commission for protection of child rights. This is perhaps the best possible method by which transparency and accountability in the management and functioning of child care institutions and other bodies under the JJ Act and Model Rules can be monitored and supervised.”

First Published: Aug 02, 2018 13:26 IST