The demolition of the notorious Muzaffarpur girls shelter home, which stood witness to horror stories of the abuse of 42 minors for years, finally began on Thursday.
Local municipal authorities began razing the four-storeyed building that had been erected in violation of building by-laws. The way the house of horrors was constructed amply reflected the scale of cruelty its inmates had to suffer at the hands of shelter home owner, Brajesh Thakur, and its caretakers.
Abuse and barbarism inflicted on minor inmates aged between six and 17 years of age inside the high dark rooms of the shelter home, came to the fore in July this year after the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), which had conducted a social audit on shelter homes in the state, submitted its damning report to the government. The TISS eport lifted the veil on organized physical and sexual exploitation of girls in Bihar shelter homes, especially at the one in Muzaffarpur, where at least 34 out of the 42 girls tested positive for rape.
The stairs leading to the two upper floors of the building, located off Sahu Road near the Chhoti Kalyani area, have barely enough space for an individual to climb them. They were sealed with an iron grill, so than none could escape once it was was locked.
Boundary walls on the top floor of the building are seven foot high, with nails plastered to the walls. Since there is no high-rise anywhere in the vicinity, any attempt to flee from the top floor would have been akin to committing suicide.
The upper two floors of the building consisted of three big halls used mainly as shelters for short-stay inmates, while the ground floor was used for printing the daily Pratah Kamal, which has been discontinued since August 30. Thakur, a PIB-accredited journalist till October this year, was the ‘proud’ owner of three newspapers published in Hindi, English and Urdu, respectively.
The offset printing machine, which boasted of the most advanced technology in the region, is now covered with a sheet of dust, even as half -printed rolls of paper lie on it.
The third floor has a 14×14 foot store room-cum-kitchen, which was kept mostly locked. There was one big hall on the third floor and three ill-lit rooms.The hall has a just few small windows near the roof, to let sunlight in.
The condition of the third floor suggests that the inmates had to wait their turn to use the bathroom, since there were barely half a dozen toilets, which are window-less and get pitch dark if the light is switched off.
The fourth floor has two big rooms, which were generally opened during winter for inmates who required special medical care. Both the rooms have sufficient ventilation for light, but rendered difficult to access, since a concrete slab was laid across the length of the wall.
Following the Supreme Court’s refusal to stay the demolition, a team of officials led by executive engineer of Muzaffarpur municipal corporation, Suresh Kumar Sinha, and assisted by magistrate Janardan Prasad, supervised the demolition operation on Thursday, even as workers knocked down the two upper floors with hammers.
Municipal officials said it would take at least a month to raze the entire building. “We had to begin the drive manually, as it was difficult to carry heavy machines to the top given the narrow passage,” said the executive engineer.
Neighbours, who claimed they had suffered due to Thakur’s evil acts, expressed happiness as municipal authorities, assisted by labourers, entered the premises and started pulverizing the building. “I am excited to see the shelter home being razed. It has cast a slur on Muzaffarpur and its natives,” said Maheshwar Sahu, a cloth shop owner. “Many of us feared that suspicious acts were going on inside the shelter home, but given the clout that Thakur enjoyed in the corridors of power, none could muster up courage to raise the issue,” said Ramesh Kumar Jaiswal, a local businessman, who had come to watch the demolition.
First Published: Dec 14, 2018 00:33 IST
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