South Delhi’s Saket court on Monday convicted 19 people, including NGO owner Brajesh Thakur in the Muzaffarpur shelter home sexual assault case. The court convicted Thakur for aggravated sexual assault under the POCSO Act and gang rape while one accused Mohammad Sahil alias Vicky was acquitted for lack of evidence.
Additional Sessions Judge Saurabh Kulshreshtha convicted the former Bihar People’s Party (BPP) MLA Brajesh Thakur for aggravated sexual assault under POCSO Act and gang-rape.
The offences entail a maximum punishment of life imprisonment. The quantum of punishment will be announced by the court on January 28, 2020.
Last week, Justice Kulshreshtha rejected the plea filed by Thakur seeking witness testimonies to be dismissed on grounds of unreliability. Thakur claimed in his plea that the prosecution witnesses in shelter home sexual assault case were not to be trusted as investigations into the allegations of murder were based on their statements. However, rejecting the plea, the Justice said the case related to the sexual assault is different from that of the murder of some.
Other convicts in the case include Indu Kumari (Principal), Meenu Devi (house mother), Manju Devi (counsellor), Chanda Devi (house mother), Neha Kumari (nurse), Kiran Kumari (helper), Hema Masih (PO), Ravi Roshan (Child Protection Officer), Vikas Kumar (CWC), Roji Rani, Vijay Tiwari (Brijesh’ driver), Guddu Kumar (shelter home staff), Krishna Kumar (shelter home staff), Ramanuj Thakur (shelter home staff), Shajista Parveen (Brijesh’ associate), Ashwini Kumar (a doctor), Dilip Kumar (CWC chairman) and Ramashankar Singh.
Another accused Premila is still absconding. Shajista’s nephew Vikki alias Mohammad Sahil was acquitted for lack of evidence.
The shocking incident of Muzaffarpur shelter home came to light in June 2018 when the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) submitted a report, based on conversations with several girls at the home.
The shelter home was housing the girls between the ages of 7 to 17 and many of the girls were suffering from speech-impairment. It was reported that they were given sedatives in the dinner and raped during the night and the inmates were brutally beaten regularly by the shelter home staff, including women and compelled the girls to have sex with the visitors.
Over 42 girls were allegedly raped and sexually abused at a shelter home named Balika Grih in Muzaffarpur, run by Brajesh Thakur, the chief of a state-funded NGO called Seva Sankalp Evam Vikash Samiti.
An FIR was lodged against 11 people, including Thakur, on May 31. The probe was later taken over by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). It also revealed that ex-minister Manju Verma’s husband had links with accused Brajesh Thakur.