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7 girls go missing from Patna shelter home, cops sound alert, launch hunt

Seven girls, including five, who alleged abuse at the infamous Muzaffarpur shelter home last year, have escaped from a short stay home in Patna district, police said on Saturday.

patna Updated: Feb 23, 2019 19:31 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Patna
Seven girls, including five, who alleged abuse at the infamous Muzaffarpur shelter home last year, have escaped from a short stay home in Patna district, police said on Saturday.(Raj K Raj/HT Photo)

An alert has been sounded across Bihar after seven girls — five of them witnesses of the infamous Muzaffarpur shelter home sexual horror case — went missing under mysterious circumstances from the Children’s Home for Girls, Nazareth Hospital, Mokama, in Patna early on Saturday.

These girls were shifted to the Mokama home from the Muzaffarpur shelter home few months back after a TISS report revealed massive sexual exploitation of inmates there by the owner and his VIP guests.

Senior police officials, who rushed to the spot, were tight lipped. They were seen probing along with sniffer dogs and other electronic gadgets.

Officials of the Mokama NGO, Nazareth Hospital Society, which is Christian missionary nuns, declined to speak to media on the issue.

Earlier on August 3 last year, a 13-year-old girl, who was also a witness in the Muzaffarpur sexual exploitation case, had gone missing from a shelter home in Madhubani. She is yet to be traced.

The Supreme Court had recently come down heavily on the Bihar government for not doing enough in the case.

The mysterious disappearance of 7 girls comes as a major blow to the case as the special POCSO court of Saket, New Delhi, was set to launch the speedy trial of the case under the direction of the Supreme Court.

As per the SC’s direction, the Saket court started the trial in the case on Saturday and is set to to wind it up within six months. Accordingly, seven of the 21 accused in the case appeared before the court.

Police officials at the spot said the inmates managed to escape from the rear side of the campus after breaking open the window of the restroom. They later used dupatta to climb down the 10 feet boundary wall.

Several senior police officials including Patna zone IG, range DIG, SSP and DM rushed to Mokama to take stock of the situation. Several administrative officials had also rushed to the spot. A team of forensic science experts reached the spot to collect evidence.

DM Kumar Ravi said, “A case has been lodged with the Mokama police station on Saturday morning and a team of officials were pressed into service to locate the missing girls.”

“We are looking at all the angles to identify if the girls escaped voluntarily or they were forced to flee from the shelter home. Police personnel are conducting raids at bus stop and railway stations,” said SSP Garima Malik.

Since the entire shelter home case is being monitored by the CBI, the agency is also keeping a close watch on the developments.

Bihar’s Nitish Kumar government was caught in the eye of a storm after the sensational exposure of Muzaffarpur Shelter Home Rape case where girls as young as seven to 17 years were sedated, drugged, raped and brutally tortured by influential businessman-cum-media house owner, Brajesh Thakur.

Following the expose, the girls were rescued from the shelter home and shifted to Madhubani, Patna and Mokama based center for girls’ rehabilitation.

A medical examination conducted on the girls had confirmed sexual abuse on 34 of 42 inmates living at the shelter. A medical board of Patna Medical College Hospital (PMCH) in June also confirmed sexual abuse of a majority of the girls of the ‘Balika Grih’.

A first information report was lodged against 12 people on May 31, 2018. On August 2, 2018, Supreme Court of India took a suo moto cognisance in the Muzaffarpur shelter home case.

Friday’s night escape has once again given opposition a chance to attack government. Leader of opposition Tejashwi Yadav and RLSP chief Upendra Kushwaha alleged that “the girls have not fled but were made to escape”.

First Published: Feb 23, 2019 18:09 IST