Brajesh Thakur, who ran the shelter home in Muzaffarpur, Bihar where 34 girls were raped and physically assaulted for several months, was found guilty by a Delhi court on Monday, January 20, 2020. Brajesh Thakur was convicted for aggravated sexual assault under the POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) Act and other related offences under the Indian Penal Code and the Juvenile Justice Act.
19 out of the 20 accused, including eight women and 12 men were found guilty on other charges – criminal conspiracy to commit rape and penetrative sexual assault against minors. All 19 convicts will be sentenced on January 28 at 10 am. One of the accused was acquitted. The offences entail a maximum punishment of life imprisonment.
The Muzaffarpur shelter home case had come to light in May 2018, after the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) submitted an audit report of 110 shelter homes in the state, to the Bihar government, that highlighted instances of sexual abuse. The shelter home was run by NGO ‘Sewa Sankalp Evam Vikas Samiti.’
The Bihar government had shifted the girls to other protection homes and, on May 31, 2018, lodged an FIR against the 11 accused including Thakur. The Supreme Court had transferred the probe to the CBI on November 28th.
According to a News18 report, one of the convicts broke down after the judge read out the decision. “I did not even touch the girls,” he claimed. “I will commit suicide.”
On Saturday, the Additional Sessions Judge Saurabh Kulshreshtha had dismissed a plea filed by Brajesh Thakur asking for witness testimonies to be rejected, on the grounds of unreliability.
Brajesh Thakur’s petition claimed prosecution witnesses in the shelter home sexual assault case were untrustworthy as the investigations were based on their statements.
The plea alleged the case by prosecution witnesses was “false, fabricated and concocted.”
“It is pertinent to mention that the investigation into the allegations of murder was based on the statements made by the prosecutrixes (rape survivors) who are prosecution witnesses in the case. They had levelled false allegations against the accused before the court, including inter alia allegations pertaining to murder,” claimed the petition.
Earlier this month, CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) told the Supreme Court that 35 girls suspected to have been killed were found alive. The agency informed the court they had found a “bundle of bones” and that Brajesh Thakur and his accomplices may have murdered 11 girls.
The CBI, subsequently said the two skeletons recovered during investigations were those of a man and a woman, and no evidence of the murder of any minor had been found.
The Bihar shelter home rape case had shocked the nation; at least 34 inmates were allegedly drugged and raped at the government-run shelter home. The scandal had exposed the role of politicians and bureaucrats.
Image Credits: IANS