The opposition leaders in Bihar on Friday came out against the alleged incident of sexual assault at a shelter home in Gaighat in the state capital, which brought back the disturbing memories of the 2018 Muzaffarpur shelter home sex scandal.
A girl inmate of the shelter home in Patna recently alleged that she and others were subjected to sexual abuse on the direction of the centre’s superintendent. The Social Welfare Department, however, has given a clean chit to the shelter home’s superintendent, Vandana Gupta, and declared that the victim mentally unstable, leading to public outcry.
Former Bihar Chief Minister Rabri Devi of the RJD on Friday accused the Nitish Kumar-led government of being involved in the incident.
“They (the leaders of Nitish Kumar government) knew everything. The officials of the shelter homes are connected to the leaders of the ruling political parties. The people of Bihar and the country are watching how Nitish Kumar is ruling the state,” Rabri Devi said.
“When the Muzaffarpur shelter home incident took place, one JD-U minister was involved in it. This time too, Madan Sahani, the Social Welfare Minister, comes from the JD-U quota. On that occasion, the Nitish Kumar government had given a clean chit, this time too it gave a clean chit to the shelter home in Patna without conducting any investigation. The Patna police did not even register an FIR in this matter while the victim is running from pillar to post for the last six days seeking justice,” Rabri Devi said.
“The Patna high court has taken cognizance of the matter . Still, the double-engine government is victimising a sexual assault victim,” she said.
The incident at the Gaighat shelter home came to light six days ago when a girl who was released from the centre alleged that superintendent Gupta used to inject sedatives or force the inmates to consume tablets. When the women became unconscious, they were raped by men, she alleged.
The victim herself claimed to have undergone such harrowing experience at the instance of Gupta, who she claimed invited men inside the women’s shelter home.
“I was a victim of sexual assault many times inside the shelter home. The superintendent of the shelter home used to invite youth inside the home premises, who targeted girl inmates when they were in an unconscious or semi-unconscious stags. Several other inmates have the same story,” the victim said.
“The victim was released from the shelter home recently. When she came to our NGO, Mahila Vikas Manch, for some assistance to find a job, we asked about her health status. It was then that she revealed her plight before us,” said Veena Manvi, the convener of Mahila Vikas Manch.
“We immediately went to the women’s police station in Patna city, but the officer refused to register an FIR in this matter,” Manvi said.
“The district administration of Patna showed negligent attitude in this matter. The District Magistrate, SSP and other senior officers tried every possible way to suppress the voice of the victim. The Social Welfare Ministry has issued a letter in the matter and given a clean chit to the alleged superintendent without conducting any investigation,” said Seema Samridhi, a Supreme Court lawyer who also fought the Nirbhaya case in Delhi.
She came to Patna on Thursday to prosecute this case.
“Following the Nirbhaya case, if any girl alleges that she has been sexually assaulted or abused by any person, the police must register FIR first and then take up the investigation. In this case, the victim is running from pillar to post for the last six days, but no one is listening to her. Moreover, they tried every possible way to declare her as mentally challenged,” Samridhi said.