PATNA/NEW DELHI: It perhaps will not be too presumptuous to say that if the Opposition and activists had not raised such a stink about the gruesome rape and torture of little girls in a Bihar shelter home, little would have happened as till date the state administration run jointly by the Janata Dal(U) and the Bharatiya Janata Party seems bent upon protecting the perpetrator Brajesh Thakur. A man who was arrested reluctantly by the police, and went smiling into prison seemed confident that he would be well protected. And given his high political connections he seemed to be not so far off the mark, with Chief Minister Nitish Kumar who has always made a fetish of probity taking several days to hold a press conference on the horrific tales finally coming out from the hell hole that was described as a ‘shelter home’ by the government and those who ran it.

The latest news from Patna seems to feed into Thakur’s confidence, as he was found in the relatively better equipped jail visitors room and not his cell. And according to these media reports he had his cell phone, and a short list of 40 very important persons he was in contact with. The list of course has been handed over to the authorities, but it is imperative for the names to be publicly released so that citizens across get an idea of who his friends list is, and who are the important persons he is relying on now to defend him.

That the crime was uncovered is in itself a major feat as stories of such abuse of the most needy by managers of so called shelter homes emerge every now and again to astound. That these NGOs that are started by men of questional repute, and nurtured by their political friends, is an old story that was written about by newspapers before the corporates distilled and filtered news. The watchdog action did result in enquiries and some corrective action, as in a juvenile home in Delhi where the media had reported sexual abuse of young boys by the guards running this several decades ago. However, successive governments have not seen fit to monitor these and ensure that the homes indeed shelter the orphans, the destitute, and those in dire need of help. After all it is these categories of suffering humans who seek shelter.

The grin on Thakur’s spoke volumes. As this only is seen on the faces of those assured of impunity. The reluctance visible in every step the state government has taken insofar as this case is concerned justifies the smirk. With the Chief Minister reluctant to take action, not just against the man, but the larger connections that came spilling out at the first instance. Such as the name of Bihar’s social welfare minister Manju Verma who was first protected by the CM with a “she has denied it” and then finally, when the uproar continued, her resignation. That her husband had links with Thakur, and that they visited the shelter where 34 girls were raped and tortured several times, was part of the information that came tumbling out of the shelter home.

The entire machinery associated with the government through the Minister---and who knows perhaps many more---and the shelter home knew of what was going on. And it is safe to presume that the dirt and the crime was known to more than many in power. And yet no action was taken, no probe ordered, no attention given until the issue came out in the public domain. It is amazing how in India horrific crimes are committed under the garb of secrecy, and not even acknowledged by seemingly omnipotent governments and authorities, until somehow the media or the opposition gets wind of it. It is as if there is no crime, until reported.

Nitish Kumar, after betraying the mandate that brought him to power in the first instance, seems to have lost moral ground steadily. His entire attitude and approach towards this terrible crime is highly questionable. His silence after it was known that his Minister refused to file an FIR after receiving the social audit report after receiving the social audit report of the TataInstitute of Social Sciences that first brought out the horror perpetrated on the young girls by the NGO Sewa Sankalp Evam Vikas Samiti.

And now Thakur seems to be lording it in jail, having found many ailments that clearly did not prevent him from raping and torturing the girls his organisation was supposed to protect. And where the message to the jail authorities seems to be that he is a protected entity, hence instead of the cell, he has the use of the visitors room, his phone, and his connections.