Childline staff attacked as rumours continue to fuel mob fury in Bihar


A group of men working in Bihar’s Darbhanga for Childline, a telephone hotline meant for helping children in distress, was on Friday attacked by a mob on suspicion of being child lifers, the police said.

According to the police, Childline employees Raghav Thakur, Nilesh Kumar Karn, constable Gopal Ram and driver Daya Jha were attacked when they reached Koriahi village in Sitamarhi district to verify the address of one of the three children they brought from a Darbhanga-based shelter home. The mob also damaged their vehicle.

During the address verification process, the officials took help of a local boy to locate the house of the child. Some villagers thought they were child-lifters and started thrashing them, the police said.

A police team led by sub-inspector Dasrath Prasad Singh reached the spot to rescue the Childline employees and was initially attacked by villagers .

“An additional police force is camping in the village and the situation is normal,” said Sitamarhi superintendent of police Anil Kumar. He also urged the Childline team to keep the police informed when they travel with children. The injured men were treated at a t local primary health centre .

Several mob attacks have taken place in Bihar on people suspected to be child lifters. As many as 14 people have been lynched by mobs across the state in the past two-and-a-half months, but none of them proved to be a real child abductor, the police claimed.

“We have found that none of those killed in mob violence was a child abductor. The police headquarters is reviewing the situation on a regular basis,” said additional director general (ADG) of police (headquarters) Jitendra Kumar on Friday.

Bihar police have filed first information reports (FIRs) against 348 people in connection with these incidents. The ADG said 278 suspects have been arrested in 39 cases of mob lynching in the state so far.

Apart from the deaths, at least 14 people have been injured in attacks by locals over such rumours, police said.

Chief minister Nitish Kumar is set to review the situation in the next few days, according to officials.

State police headquarters has asked people not to spread rumours, and keep away from mob violence, warning them of serious consequences under law. Separate teams from the police and district administrations have also launched campaigns to sensitise people through audio/video clips and posters, besides making them aware that mob attacks were a cognisable offence.

“The police will deal with those spreading rumours sternly. Those seen involved in incidents of mob justice will not spared,” said a second senior police officer on condition of anonymity.

Former inmate of Bihar shelter home raped by 4 men in moving car


A woman, who had been an inmate of the infamous Muzaffarpur shelter home, was allegedly raped by four men in a moving vehicle (car) in Bettiah town of West Champaran district, police said on Sunday.

The Muzaffarpur shelter home had hit the headlines in 2018 after a social audit report highlighted that over 30 girls were allegedly raped at the Government-aided shelter home, run by an NGO.

Bettiah town police station SHO Shashi Bhushan Thakur said the woman was admitted to a Government medical college on Saturday evening and a medical examination was conducted by a team of doctors on Sunday, he said.

It will be confirmed whether she was raped only after getting the medical examination report, he said.

The woman, in her police complaint lodged with the Bettah town police station on Saturday, alleged that four men forcibly took her inside their vehicle (car) while she was passing through the area where she lives on Friday evening, and raped her in a moving vehicle, police said.

The men then dumped the woman in her locality after raping her. All the four men had covered their faces with masks but she could remove the masks and identify them.

While all the four persons belonged to the same family, two of them were brothers, she said. Over 30 girls were allegedly raped at the shelter home run by Brajesh Thakur, the chief of a state-funded NGO.

The alleged sexual exploitation of the girls was first highlighted in an audit report submitted by TISS to the state’s social welfare department.

An FIR was lodged against 11 people, including Thakur, on May 31, 2018. The state government had on July 26, 2018 handed over the case to the CBI. On February 7, 2019, the Supreme Court ordered authorities to transfer the case from Bihar to a Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) court in Saket District Court complex in Delhi, which would conclude the trial within six months by holding preferably day-to-day hearing.

Jharkhand to build shelter home for adult orphans


Jharkhand will be building a shelter home for orphans above 18 years to fulfil a provision in the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act- 2015.

Named Place of Stay, the shelter will be meant for orphans who can no longer be accommodated in regular government shelters where children below 18 are accommodated and also for those who facing cases in a court of law.

“In Jharkhand, there are around 72 shelter homes for children, including 10 for children in conflict with the law where children up to 18 years stay. These shelter homes are run by the government as well as authorised NGOs. Currently, 3,223 children are living there. Now, we have planned to build a shelter home for persons above 18 years,” minister of women, child development and social security Louise Marandi told the media on Monday at Suchana Bhavan where she also highlighted the achievements and priorities of her department.

Special secretary D.K. Saxena, who was also present at the media interaction, explained that shelter homes were meant for children who were either orphaned or separated from their parents and family due to legal complications or circumstances beyond their control.

Shelter homes, he added, were also meant for children who had committed a crime.

“These are children who are in conflict with law. Such children, till they are 18, are kept at shelter homes. But technically once they attain adulthood they can’t be accommodated at shelter homes. Yet, we cannot leave such children unattended till their cases are disposed of,” he said, adding that Place of Safety was an institutional mechanism within the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act-2015.

“There is a provision in the act to set up a proper shelter home for adolescents. A proposal has been finalised and we are looking for a suitable location to construct a building,” Saxena said. Teenagers above 18, he added, would be accommodated at the Place of Stay till they are 21.

The women and child department suffered a crisis of credibility in July last year when a Ranchi shelter, Nirmal Hriday, managed by the Missionaries of Charity, was embroiled in a baby sale racket that had apparently been going on for long.

The racket, busted after a childless couple who paid for a baby, was later asked to return the child. The incident revealed that the department did not have any mechanism of monitoring the activities of the shelters.

Marandi said her department subsequently cancelled registration of 14 NGOs after finding out that they were running shelters without proper facilities in violation of rules.

“Besides rescue and rehabilitation of minors subjected to child labour and trafficking, we have set up integrated rehabilitation and resource centres in Delhi and in Ranchi. To provide temporary shelter to rescued girls and women we have also set up one-stop centres in every district. Earlier, we had one-stop centres in Ranchi, Jamshedpur and Dhanbad,” she said.

The minister said that for empowerment of girls, aged between 14 and 24, the state government had launched a Rs 540 crore scheme called Tejashwini Yojana. The World Bank would provide 70 per cent of the funds. The remaining would be mobilised by the women and child department.

“We launched this programme in Dumka and Ramgarh district. It will be extended to other districts. As many as 50,000 girls have been chosen and we will ensure they are get education till class 10. They will also be given training so that they are employable,” the minister said.

The department, she added, planned to target seven lakh girls. “We have formed Tejashwini clubs where girls and women are taught about their rights and duties, besides creating awareness about education,” she said.