- "Why is Nitish Kumar quiet? Who is he protecting," asks Tejashwi Yadav
- Tejashwi Yadav has compiled a list of 20 questions for the chief minister
- Over 30 girls were abused at a shelter run by a NGO in Muzaffarpur
Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Tejashwi Yadav has intensified his attack on Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and accused him of shielding "several ministers and bureaucrats" for their involvement in the sexual abuse of over 30 girls at a shelter run by a state-funded NGO in Muzaffarpur.
The former Bihar deputy chief minister dared his "chacha" to name the "moochh (moustache) wale, tond (paunch) wale and hunter wale" mentioned in the girls' statements, or he will. He has compiled a list of 20 questions for the chief minister and wants their answers within a week.
"Even after the Supreme Court called what happened at the Muzaffarpur shelter as 'state-sponsored', Nitish Kumar has carefully maintained his silence. Why is he quiet? Who is he protecting?" said Mr Yadav.
Last week, the top court had skewered the Bihar government for funding the horror at the shelter. "Girls are raped left, right and centre. Why there was no inspection of these homes?" the court had asked.
The court was hearing the case involving the Muzaffarpur shelter in which over 30 girls were drugged, raped and tortured over the last four years. Ten people have been arrested, including the home's politically well-connected owner Brajesh Thakur, whose no-profit runs other shelter homes.
The Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), which had exposed the shelter home rapes in a report in May, informed the court that 15 such shelters had been red-flagged in its report, including the one in Muzaffarpur. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) began their investigation last month.
The incident was highlighted by Tejashwi Yadav on social media who alleged that the government "sat on the report" and when the First Information Report or FIR was filed after a delay of over two months, Brajesh Thakur was conveniently kept out of it.
"There is a police station a few steps from the shelter. Brajesh Thakur continued to rape girls, but the cops didn't know anything. How is that possible?" Tejashwi Yadav alleged at his press conference in Delhi and demanded the Bihar home minister resignation for failing to ensure safety of the girls at a place where they are supposed to feel protected. Nitish Kumar is also in charge of the home ministry.
Bihar's Social Welfare minister Manju Verma resigned last week amid allegations that her husband, Chandeshwar Verma, frequently visited the Muzaffarpur shelter. NDTV had reported that call records confirm the minister's husband was in touch with Brajesh Thakur, and 17 calls were exchanged between them this year.
The politically savvy son of Lalu Yadav alleged that the minister was being made a scapegoat to protect "many ministers, MPs and top officials". "It's part of his strategy to save the others. Who leaked only one person's call details? Who is Nitish Kumar trying to shield? He needs to speak up," Mr Yadav said.
The chief minister also needs to break his silence on the girl who went missing from Madhubani home after the Muzaffarpur scandal led to nationwide outrage, Mr Yadav said. "This girl knew everything. She was sent from Muzaffarpur to Madhubani shelter run by Sanjay Jha, who is close to Nitish Kumar. If they don't produce her soon, we will protest in Madhubani," he said.
We don't want to politicise the issue, Mr Yadav stressed and added the fight will continue for justice for the girls. "We have to ensure that a second Brajesh Thakur isn't born," he said.