Brajesh Thakur being produced at the Muzaffarpur court on Thursday. Picture by Pankaj Kumar
Patna: As soon as the Sun set, the girls would be scared. The nights were full of terror. That was what a 10-year-old girl, from the Balika Grih in Muzaffarpur at the centre of the sexual abuse horror, said in Hindi before a judicial magistrate.
The Bihar government blinked and recommended a CBI probe into the rampant abuse at the Balika Grih, a government-funded shelter home run by an NGO, on Thursday, a day after the wife of an arrested accused said a minister's husband used to frequent the place.
Medical examination of 42 girls from the shelter has found that at least 29 of them were raped, at least three were made to undergo abortion, and another three are pregnant. All of them are children; most of them between seven and 14 years old.
The girls said - in statements recorded before the special POCSO court - that they were tortured, starved, injected with drugs, and raped almost every night.
Most of the girls identified Brajesh Thakur, the arrested proprietor of Seva Sankalp Evam Vikas Samiti, the NGO that ran the home, as one of the rapists. One girl even spit on his photograph. "He used to beat us with a stick when anybody disobeyed him," another 10-year-old said.
A 14-year-old said: "The girls used to shiver with fear whenever he (Brajesh) entered the rooms. He was known as Hunterwala Uncle."
A 10-year-old said she was often drugged before being raped. She would wake up with pain and injury marks on her private parts. "I complained to Kiran Madam (a shelter home staff) but she didn't listen to me," the girl said.
A seven-year-old, who was also sexually abused, told the court: "Neha Madam, Kiran Madam and other employees... tortured and even assaulted with bamboo sticks the girls who complained against the owner."
Another seven-year-old said she was raped after her hands and feet were tied up. "When I tried to resist, I was beaten up and made to starve for three days. I surrendered before Brajesh Sir and apologised," she told the court.
Neha Kumari and Kiran Kumari are among the 10 persons arrested in the case.
Another seven-year-old speech-impaired girl was made to starve for two days. Finally she gave in. Another 10-year-old girl said she had scars on her private parts. "I was unable to move for days after I was tortured and raped repeatedly by office-bearers and some outsiders," she said. "At times, girls were taken outside at night and they returned the next day. I don't know where they were taken."
An 11-year-old girl referred to a " tondwala uncleji" (fat uncle), another identified her tormentor as "muchhwala uncleji" (moustachioed uncle).
"Nobody was allowed to enter the rooms when tondwala uncleji or Netaji were around," another girl said.
The wife of the arrested district child protection officer had alleged on Wednesday that the girls called social welfare department minister Manju Verma's husband as Netaji.Minister Manju, who belongs to chief minister Nitish Kumar's party, claimed she was being targeted for her caste.--TI