Opposition Unites Against a Shamed Nitish Kumar

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Bihar Opposition leader Tejashvi Yadav, who brought the party’s protests from Patna to Delhi, accused Nitish of shielding Brajesh Thakur, the politically connected owner of the shelter home. If sources are to be believed, he has been close to the leaders of the ruling party.  Thakur who even owns newspapers, had always managed to escape action due to the power and influence wielded by him. A report for Different Truths. 

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has been caught in his own trap. On Friday, when he confessed to being ashamed for by the gruesome incident of rape of 34 little girls at the state government-funded shelter home in Muzaffarpur, he did not imagine his remark would put him in a tight spot.

Speaking for the first time on the dreadful occurrence that has shaken Bihar and the country, Nitish said, “We are racked by a feeling of guilt. I don’t understand what kind of people are present in the society.” But to his bad luck, it actually backfired.

There has been widespread condemnation of Nitish sitting idle for nearly two months on the case and not taking action against the culprits. Yesterday participating at a protest rally in Delhi’s Jantar Mantar, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi slammed Nitish Kumar saying “If Nitish Kumar is really ashamed, he should quickly take action… Prove it by your work”.

Rahul Gandhi also took on the BJP-led national coalition at the Centre, saying the protest was also aimed at seeking a safer environment for women across the country; “We stand with women of India, girls and their families who suffered in Muzaffarpur and elsewhere… And we will not step back an inch”. The Congress chief, who took part in the RJD-sponsored protest and candle march against the shelter home case, said, “We have gathered here for the women of our country and we stand with them. If Nitishji is really feeling ashamed then he should take immediate action.”

In a rude shock to the chief minister, Bihar Governor Satya Pal Malik on Saturday suspended seven social welfare department officials for not taking timely cognizance of the social audit report by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), which exposed the despicable incident. Malik shot off the letter citing failure on the part of the officials to initiate a probe into the matter even after receiving the audit report. An FIR was lodged by the state social welfare department in June.

The TISS team had carried out the social audit of all 110 government-run or supported institutions in the state. It came across various type of sexual abuses at all the houses. In some houses kids were sodomised. Citing sexual exploitation at six short stay homes, physical abuse at 14 shelters, bathrooms with no latches, and inmates being “always locked up”, the TISS, in its report to the Bihar government said abuse is “prevalent in almost all institutions”.

Based on the reports of the TISS, the police has filed a second FIR against Brajesh Thakur, who ran the shelter, because at least 11 women and four children are reportedly missing from the facility. Shockingly, while it was found that the women were missing on June 9, the FIR was filed only on July 29. These women were located in Chaurbhuj Sthan, the red light area of Bihar.

In a pathetic case of apathy, the governments at on the report for almost two months. On finding them missing, no effort was made to trace them. Not even an FIR was lodged till July 29, by when the matter had become a topic of national debate.

The Governor was highly critical of the dereliction of duty by the seven officers. Though they were in the know of the crime and in fact were directed on May 26 during the state level meeting to take strict action after reviewing the audit report.

Instead of taking against the accused persons Nitish asked the chief secretary to create a system that could prevent repetition of such a horror. Now questions are being raised in political circle vas to why Nitish was reluctant to take action.

Bihar Opposition leader Tejashvi Yadav, who brought the party’s protests from Patna to Delhi, accused Nitish of shielding Brajesh Thakur, the politically connected owner of the shelter home. If sources are to be believed, he has been close to the leaders of the ruling party.  Thakur who even owns newspapers, had always managed to escape action due to the power and influence wielded by him.

The rally against the shelter rape scam heralded the emergence of the united front of the opposition in Bihar. Prominent leaders who joined the protest included Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s nominee Dinesh Trivedi, CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury, CPI’s D Raja and Atul Kumar Anjan, and Loktantrik Janata Dal leader Sharad Yadav. Addressing the participants, Rahul Gandhi underlined how the opposition had come together to stand up for what was right and promised.

The Supreme Court has taken suo motu cognizance of the shelter home rape cases and sought an explanation from Nitish government and the Women and Child Development Ministry as to why no action was taken to stop the  crime. Reports said that the charge sheet in the case detailed a network of police, politicians, administration and criminals behind the racket that has been going on for around four years.

The government has also been criticised for providing advertisements to newspapers owned by Brajesh Thakur. Left organisations supported by the RJD, Congress along with smaller parties like Hindustani Awam Morcha, Loktantrik Janta Dal (floated by former JD(U) president Sharad Yadav) and NCP had observed a day-long state bandh over the Muzaffarpur incident and the alleged atrocities against Dalits.

Arun Srivastava
©IPA Service 

Photo from the Internet