NL Exclusive: Not one of Bihar’s 15 institutions is exploiting children

A few months ago, at the initiative of the Bihar government, the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS or TIS) conducted a social audit of the children’s homes in Bihar. Tiss’s ‘try’ unit had roamed the 38 districts of Bihar and submitted an audit report of about 110 childhouses to the Social Welfare Department on April 27, 2018. ‘Prayas’ works primarily on urban poverty. The team had a total of eight members, five men and three women.

According to Bihar Social Welfare Department Chief Secretary Atul Prasad, Tis report was divided into three categories – ‘Better’, ‘Administrative negligence’ and ‘Criminal negligence’. The ‘Service Resolution and Development Committee’ of Muzaffarpur was found in the category of criminal negligence.

On May 26, the Social Welfare Department summoned all its regional officials and shared this report of ‘Prayas’. The department ordered the officials to take immediate action. Based on this, the police filed the first FIR on 31 May on the ‘Service Resolution and Development Committee’ of Muzaffarpur under Juvenile Justice Act and POCSO Act.

Police arrested Brajesh Thakur, Kiran Kumari, Meenu Devi, Manju Devi, Indu Kumari, Chanda Devi, Neha Kumari and Hema Christ on June 3 and sent them to jail. The police shifted 42 of the 44 girls kept in this Balgriha to various girls’ homes in Patna, Madhubani and Mokama. According to the members of the try unit, in June itself, in the medical examination by Patna PMCH found that 29 girls out of 42 were raped.

In their statement given to the police, some girls living in the Service Resolution and Development Committee told that a girl was beaten to death by the employees there for not believing. Later she was buried in the premises of the girl child. On Monday 23 July, Muzaffarpur police reached to dig the girl child. Then the matter caught on. Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Tejashwi Yadav raised the matter in the House. After this, the eyes of media across the country turned to Muzaffarpur. However, at present, the Chief Minister or Deputy Chief Minister has not given any statement. But according to some media reports, the Bihar government has issued a CBI inquiry order on Thursday.

But this matter is not limited to Muzaffarpur only. In the same report by Tata Institute of Social Sciences, 14 more shelter homes in Bihar have been exposed to harassment. Unfortunately, neither the media nor the administration has acted promptly.

According to the news of the Navbharat Times, Sheeba Kumari Singh, wife of Ravi Kumar Roshan, an officer of Muzaffarpur Girls’ Conservation Home, has raised doubts over the husband of Social Welfare Minister Manju Verma. Sheeba alleges that Manju Verma’s husband Chandreshwar Verma used to come to the girl’s home often. When they used to come, all the officers of the Girl Child Protection Home were evacuated and sent down.

Well, the incident of Muzaffarpur is now in the eyes of the government administration and action is being taken on it, but in the report of Tis on which all this information was revealed, finger was also raised on 14 other children’s homes. Researchers at Tiss have shared this part of the report with Newslaundry. Here we are giving the names of all those institutions and recommendations given on it. When the Newslaundry wanted to know from the Director of Bihar Social Welfare Department, Raj Kumar, what is the status of action on the remaining 14 institutions, they started making another statement. His anger was on the media. He said, “Bihar government should be praised which automatically got the social audit done. Only then came all this information. But the media is not telling this thing to anyone. ”

Different Committees Formed

1. Service Resolution and Development Committee, Muzaffarpur (Girl Child)

This is the only girl house where the administration has come into action after the audit report. It was told in the report that there are complaints of serious sexual harassment and violence with girls in the Service Resolution and Development Committee. The movement of girls in any open space was forbidden and they were only taken out of the room for dinner.

2. Instructions, Motihari (Children’s Home)

‘Instruction’ is a children’s home in Motihari. According to the report, all children are beaten up here. There is a special pattern of fighting, if even one child commits a prank then everyone is beaten. According to the children, bullying, trying to run away, the child house worker beats all the children for fighting among themselves. Attempts in its report say that children are being sexually abused and abused, which needs immediate action and detailed investigation.

3. Rupam Pragati Samaj Committee, Bhagalpur (Children’s Home)

Serious questions were raised in the report on the secretary of this children’s home NGO in Bhagalpur. An employee of the institute who was in support of children was harassed by the secretary. The audit team investigated the complaint box in the institute and found several complaints against RTO Rekha. Children had mentioned many incidents of violence in written complaints. It was told that Rekha commits physical violence and abuses with children. The institute did not want to give the key to the complaint box to the audit team. He made an excuse to lose the key.

4. Shelter, Munger (Children’s Home)

Munger’s sheltered children’s home has no building of its own. It operates within a barrack-like structure. The shelter’s inspector stays in the premises of the childhouse. He gets the children to do the work of cleaning and preparing food. When the children refuse, he kills the children. A child who cooks for the inspector showed a mark of about 3 inches long on his cheek. The mark was allegedly from the beating of the inspector. Due to injury, he now has problems in speaking and hearing.

Another child, who is about 7 years old, also suffers from hearing problems. The child told the inspector from the audit team that the inspector had snatched away his listening machine. The audit team returned his machine.

5. Daudanagar Organization for Rural Development (DORD), Gaya (Children’s Home)

This institute is operating like a prison and in an exploitative environment. The boys told the audit team that the women employees get the boys to write stupid messages on paper and force them to give the other women employees. Children have accepted the matter of beating. The audit team has expressed doubts, here the staff uses children for other tasks.

6. Nari Gunjan – Patna, RVESK – Madhubani, Gyan Bharati – Kaimur (Adoption Agency)

All these three institutions are running in a pathetic condition. The number of caretakers in the proportion of newborns and children is extremely low. All three were unclean. The audit team found the children hungry and unhappy. Employees complained that they have not been paid for a long time.

7. Observation Home, Araria

It is a directly run government home. Boys complain that a guard of Bihar Police here ‘severely’ kills the boys. A child showed a scar on the chest to the audit team. On seeing it, it appeared that his chest was pressed hard, due to which there was swelling in the chest.

It may be noted that the inspector was aware of the violence in this Observation Home in Araria. Since the guard was appointed by the Bihar Police, the inspector expressed displeasure over the action. The children had anger towards the guards. One child told the audit team, “The name of this place should be changed from correctional home to spoiled house.”

8. Institute of Khadi Agriculture and Rural Development (IKRD), Patna (Women’s Short Term Home)

Girls have complained of violence here. Many lost girls have been kept here. Some of the girls had the numbers of their families but the employees of the institution did not let them contact the parents. Last year, a girl committed suicide after being harassed by everyday violence. Another victimized girl has lost her composure. Girls are short of clothes and medicines. Their living conditions as a whole are pathetic.

9. Sakhi, Motihari, Women’s Short Stay

Here the matter of physical violence has come to light with girls and women suffering from mental illness. All the allegations of violence are on the counselor. The girls have complained about not getting sanitary pads. The environment of living here is not good and action is needed immediately.

10. Novelty Welfare Society, Women’s almament house, Munger

The institution has given a part of the building to a family on rent and is charging a rent of Rs 10,000 per month from it. The girls did not say much, just that the bathroom does not have an inside latch. The audit team opened a closed room of the institute and took out a mentally ill woman from it. She caught the woman audit team member and started crying.

11. Mahila Chetna Vikas Mandal, Mahila Alpavas Ghar, Madhepura

The audit team found the Mahila Chetna Vikas Mandal unkind. One girl said in the complaint, she has been forcefully taken from the road and is not being allowed to contact the family. The audit team wanted to gather more information about the girl’s case, but at that time there was no one but the cook in the institute. The cook was very scared. The girls did not have a gold mat and carpets. She sleeps on the ground.

12. Village Swaraj Seva Sansthan, Women’s almament house, Kaimur

The girls have complained of sexual harassment. Security guards have been involved in sexual harassment. The girls and women said, the guard makes lewd comments and his behavior towards girls is also inappropriate. As the guard oversees all the functioning of the institution, he rules over the girls.

13. Sewa Kutir, Muzaffarpur

This service cottage of Muzaffarpur is operated by Om Sai Foundation. The girls have complained of abuses and violence. These girls were brought here citing work. The audit team did not get documents related to the institution because the employee of the institution said that the key of the cupboard was not there. The key to the wardrobe was with another employee who was on leave on the day of audit.

14. Seva cottage, Gaya

Meta Buddha Trust operates the service cottage in Gaya. This is old age home. The audit team found the people of Sewa cottage very lean. While interacting with the people, the audit team saw the institute members gesturing. The institute was being run in a very official way. There was a high number of mentally ill people here.

According to local newspaper Prabhat Khabar, in December 2015, the residents of Sujata bypass had complained against the operators of Seva Kutir. The villagers said that the members of Seva Kutir forcibly take beggars and are forced to undergo treatment.