May 21, 2024

The Bihar

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Night visits, signs of torture: Aasra Home mess hints at another Bihar shelter home scandal

3 min read into the mysterious deaths of two inmates of Aasra Home, a shelter for women with psychological disorders run by Anumanya Human Resource Foundation (AHRF), in Patna’s Nepali Nagar under Rajiv Nagar police station area are leading probe officials towards another sex scam in Bihar.

Barely two months back, an exposure of sexual exploitation of more than 30 minor children between seven to 17 years of age at a state-funded shelter home in Muzaffarpur, had shaken the entire nation. On Sunday, the teams of Patna police, CID and civil administration began scanning files and interrogated the 73 inmates of Aasra home after mysterious death of two women on Friday night. On Monday, three others were taken to hospital with serious ailments.

Without informing police, the NGO officials had hurriedly conducted the last rites of one of the inmates. However, as police got to learn about the incident, they stepped in and decided to go for a second autopsy of the other inmate’s body lying in the PMCH morgue to clear doubts of sabotage.

Two people identified as the NGO owner, Manisha Dayal and coordinator, Chirantan Kumar have been arrested for hiding facts and negligence. They were subsequently remanded to police custody here on Monday evening. Dayal is a socialite. Her rise in Patna’s social and political circles has been meteoric.

The three-storey rented building where this shelter home was running since May this year is now in focus for all the wrong reasons. Neighbours and local residents have started spilling the beans before media and levelling serious allegations indicating that all was not well at this home too.

“We often used to see SUVs stopping at the shelter home during midnight and in the wee hours. Many a times, we saw the shelter home women being taken away in the cars late in the night and dropped back in the wee hours,” said a neighbour, who refused to be identified.

Another neighbour said they used to hear women screaming and shouting as if they were being beaten up or tortured. “The authorities often kept the women away from locals and never allowed them to mingle,” said the man, whose house is bang opposite the shelter home.

Efforts to speak to inmates turned futile. They did not reply to HT’s queries and shut themselves in their rooms.

A couple of days back, four women had tried to flee the shelter home but the guards caught them before they could escape. For various reasons, the NGO officials did not inform police about the incident.

The next day, when police reached there after learning about the incident through locals, the NGO officials informed them that a neighbouring man, Nagina Singh alias Banarasi had with ulterior motives tried to lure the girl to flee.

On interrogation, the girls confessed that they had fallen to the baits of Banarasi and had tried to escape by cutting the window grille with a saw but were caught. They told police that Banarasi had given them the saw. Police arrested Banarasi and sent him to jail.

Speaking to reporters at the Rajiv Nagar police station before being taken to court, Chirantan Kumar rubbished the locals’ allegations as baseless. He said that only doctors used to visit on call in the night. “We have records and CCTV footages of all visitors to the shelter home and have furnished the same to police. Since, it is a home for women with psychological disorders they often kept unwell and screamed during odd hours. The two women who died on Friday were keeping unwell and were on medication for few days. Their medical reports have been submitted to police,” he said.

Kumar added, “We are being framed by the department and Muzaffarpur shelter home sexual horror main accused, Brajesh Thakur.”

A police official said both Thakur and Dayal knew each other well. Thakur often gave good coverage to events organised by Dayal’s two foundations, Pinkish and AHRF, in his English and Hindi dailies.

Dayal’s sympathiSers said that by implicating her in what seems to be a non-issue, the social welfare department and jailed Thakur might have connived to divert media’s attention from the Muzzafarpur shelter home case.

An official of the welfare department rubbished it as baseless.

Courtesy: Hindustan Times

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