Afternoon Voice

Muzaffarpur shelter home issue rocks Bihar Assembly

The alleged sexual exploitation of girls at a state-funded shelter home in Muzaffarpur rocked the Bihar Assembly, leading to adjournment of the House till 2 pm.

Heated exchanges were witnessed between the opposition and treasury benches within minutes of commencement of proceedings.

Soon after the House met, opposition MLAs particularly those belonging to the RJD, the Congress and the CPI (ML) were on their feet. Many of them trooped into the Well of the House shouting anti-government slogans and demanding a discussion on the Muzaffarpur shelter home issue.

Leader of the opposition Tejashwi Yadav pleaded with Speaker Vijay Kumar Choudhary, “This is an important issue that needs to be discussed urgently. The administration is trying to evade its responsibility. Whatever action has been taken, has been done upon the direction of the court”.

Yadav alleged, “The government appears to be shielding the guilty people. There has been no let up in crimes against women notwithstanding the claims by the government that they could safely move around even in the night.

“Recent incidents in many districts show that girls are not safe even while accompanied by their parents.”

The Speaker said “You are raising a very serious matter, but please raise it after question hour,” and added “If you agree, I can issue instructions that the matter be taken up for debate tomorrow itself”.

At this juncture, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Shravan Kumar said the government is prepared to come up with a response on the issue.

“But it seems they are more interested in creating a ruckus than in hearing a reply,” he said.

As the slogan-shouting continued, Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi remarked, “The government is neither trying to shield nor implicate anyone. The matter had come to light not because of you (opposition) but because of a social audit conducted by the government itself.”

Asserting that the government had not shied away from taking action against any of the accused in the Muzaffarpur case, including Brajesh Thakur, who controlled the NGO which ran the shelter home and was said to be close to many people in the ruling dispensation.

“This is not a government which would seek to protect a Rajballabh Yadav,” the deputy chief minister said referring to an RJD MLA who is in jail in connection with a rape case, which had come to light two years ago while the party was a part of the ruling Grand Alliance.

As the slogan shouting continued unabated, the Speaker adjourned the House till 2 pm.

Earlier, Tejashwi Yadav, on permission from the Speaker, had moved a proposal for holding discussions on Wednesday morning on the drought-like situation in the state, to which the House gave its consent.

The proposal was based on a report of the Business Advisory Committee on Monday.

Speaking outside the House later, Yadav said, “We stick to our demand for a CBI inquiry into the matter. In view of the seriousness of the matter involved, we would like the probe to be monitored by the High Court.”