Even as Tejashwi Yadav plans to lead a candle march on Saturday starting from Jantar Mantar in Delhi, skeletons continue to tumble out of Muzaffarpur’s homes of horror.
While the former deputy chief minister has said that the march would be apolitical, there is little doubt that the NDA Government in the state and both chief minister Nitish Kumar and his deputy Sushil Kumar Modi have been greatly embarrassed by the scandal.
While chief minister Nitish Kumar broke his silence on Friday and declared that culprits would not be spared, Sushil Modi, who had also been criticised for his silence on the issue, tweeted on Saturday morning that Tejashwi Yadav was tarnishing the image of the state in his quest to become a ‘poster boy’.
The fact remains that even a month after the scandal surfaced, the state government has not taken action against officials, barring the lowly placed local employees in Muzaffarpur. Nor have Nitish Kumar or Modi spoken out against Thakur, with whom they are accused of having been close.
The imposing house of the king-pin Brajesh Thakur lies barely a kilometer from the town’s red light area, Chaturbhujsthan. The home that one of his close associates Madhu Kumari used to run is even closer. And the women selling their bodies at Chaturbhujsthan are bemused at the controversy. One of them said, “We act as dustbins but look at what the respectable people do.”
Madhu Kumari is still on the run. And the home she ran is locked. There is nobody there. So is the old age home that functioned under Thakur’s NGO. Even the three newspapers published by Thakur, now in jail, have ceased publication even as Muzaffarpur observed a partially successful bandh to protest against the scandal that has rocked the country.
But one still senses the reluctance of people to talk and indeed to condemn. Shopkeepers around the lane on which Thakur’s mansion is located, are tight-lipped. They did not see or hear anything is their cryptic and terse reply to questions. Even as condoms and liquor bottles were seized by the police from one of the three shelter homes set up by Thakur, his name still evokes fear. He is perceived to be still powerful, which explains his mocking smile as the police led him away.
Thakur seems to have been the NGO King of Bihar, having registered as many as 16 of them in the state besides the Seva Sankalp Evam Vikas Samiti, under whose aegis the home in Muzaffarpur functioned. He also owns a hotel, RM Hotel, in Muzaffarpur where several official functions would be held by government departments.
He also had a finger in real estate even as he brought out three newspapers, which were seldom seen, largely distributed free but which raked in a disproportionate part of government’s advertising budget. With his brother-in-law being the chairperson of the Muzaffarpur Press Club, his stranglehold over the town was complete.
As has been reported earlier, the day he was arrested, he drove his own car to the police station with policemen sitting at the back. And that was the day when the Social Welfare department released another tranche of ₹40 lakhs to his NGO to help stop begging.
One of the inmates of the home, a 14 year old girl, told the police that Thakur was known as the ‘Hunter waale Uncle’. He apparently used to beat children liberally at the slightest provocation and the children used to dread him. He was also powerful enough to get the District Magistrate to recommend his now absconding associate Madhu Kumari for a state award.