A court in Delhi on Monday convicted 19 persons, including the main accused Brajesh Thakur, in the Muzaffarpur shelter home case, PTI reported. One of the accused was acquitted.
Thakur used to run the shelter home in Bihar where at least 34 inmates were allegedly drugged and raped, according to law enforcement agencies. In its chargesheet filed in December 2018, the Central Bureau of Investigation had alleged that Thakur had coerced girls to dance to vulgar songs and have sexual intercourse with guests.
Additional Sessions Judge Saurabh Kulshreshtha convicted Thakur for aggravated sexual assault under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act.
Arguments on the quantum of the sentence will be heard on January 28. The offences entail a maximum punishment of life imprisonment.
One of the convicts broke down after the judge read out his decision, News18 reported. “I did not even touch the girls,” he claimed. “I will commit suicide.”
On Saturday, the court had dismissed a plea by Thakur where he claimed testimonies of witnesses in the case were not reliable.
The CBI had taken over the probe in 2018 following a Supreme Court directive. In June last year, the Supreme Court gave the CBI three months to complete the investigation, including suspected murders, in the case. It had also asked the agency to widen its scope to include “outsiders” involved in the crime and to investigate the allegations of video recordings of the alleged assault under the Information Technology Act.
The alleged sexual exploitation came to light in April 2018 after Mumbai’s Tata Institute of Social Sciences submitted an audit report of 110 shelter homes in the state. The audit had been ordered by the state government, which filed a first information report against 11 people, including Thakur, on May 31, 2018.