The Rashtiya Janata Dal on Saturday began a protest at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi against the rape of at least 34 girls at a shelter home in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur last month. Congress President Rahul Gandhi, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Sitaram Yechury, Communist Party of India leaders D Raja and Atul Kumar Anjan and Loktantrik Janata Dal leader Sharad Yadav also attended the demonstration.
Kejriwal said that the Nitish Kumar-led government turned a blind eye towards the plight of the girls who were continuously harassed and assaulted at the shelter, Firstpost reported. He said that the law should punish not just the rapists, but also those who protected them. Kejriwal claimed that the Bihar government was “sleeping” while several non-governmental organisation raised concerns about the home.
The Delhi chief minister also blamed Prime Minister Narendra Modi for remaining silent while rapists were being “shielded” in Bihar. Aam Aadmi Party leader Sanjay Jha said Kumar should follow the example he set by resigning as Union railway minister following a train accident in 1999.
Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Tejashwi Yadav said no information was available about one of the inmates at the shelter home. “The girl who had all the information has been shifted to a shelter home in Madhubani,” he told ANI. “After being shifted, there is no information about her. We don’t know if she is dead or has been killed or is missing.”
Former Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi claimed Kumar had lost the “moral high ground” to continue as chief minister, according to Firstpost. Nationalist Congress Party General Secretary Tariq Anwar said that Kumar should sack Bihar Social Welfare Minister Manju Verma. “The minister’s husband Chadrashekhar Verma should be be arrested and tried for his involvement in the case,” Anwar told reporters in Patna.
Kumar had earlier asked state Director General of Police KS Dwivedi to hand over the case to the Central Bureau of Investigation. Three days after the state government’s request, the CBI booked officers and employees of the shelter.
On July 23, the Bihar Police excavated the ground at the shelter home to look for the body of a girl allegedly buried there after being raped. An inmate of the home, run by Seva Sankalp Evam Vikash Samiti, had informed the police about the body during an investigation into the alleged sexual assault of dozens of fellow inmates.
The police initially said that 16 girls had been sexually assaulted. Later, the figure went up to 34 after a fresh medical report released by the Patna Medical College and Hospital. Ten of the 11 accused in the case have been arrested so far.
The sexual exploitation came to light after Mumbai’s Tata Institute of Social Sciences submitted an audit report in April and the government filed a first information report on May 31, Social Welfare Department Principal Secretary Atul Prasad had said.