It was the welfarist apparatus, funded by taxpayer money, that was used to run a brothel. It took a visit by a Mumbai-based body to expose the racket.
All over the world, there are paedophiles and perverts, but a sex racket involving minors, many of them prepubescent, going on for years, apparently, in connivance with the authorities and politicians! This is perhaps unheard of. That something as hideous and unconscionable can be institutionalised is a horrifying thought. But this is exactly what has happened in Bihar.
And, by the way, it was not the alertness of the administration or cops, the concern of any local activist, or the news stories in the local media that unearthed the egregious scam; it was a Mumbai-based body that came to the rescue of dozens of hapless girls. The Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) visited the “shelter home” for women in Muzaffarpur, run by an NGO, in March. In its report, the TISS mentioned rape and violence at the centre. The NGO belongs to Brajesh Thakur, a journalist-cum-politician.
Even after that report, it took months for the authorities to book the loathsome thug. It is crystal clear that Thakur had supporters in the ruling dispensation; how high his accomplices were placed is yet to be established—that is, if it can ever be established, given the state of affairs in Bihar.
Meanwhile as many as 34 rapes have been confirmed; 11 women and four children are still missing from another centre at Chaturbhuj Sthan, Muzaffarpur’s red-light area. There are reports of young girls, some even seven and eight years old, being thrashed, whipped, cut, and burnt with boiling water. They were drugged so that the clients didn’t face difficulty in raping them. Even the most ferocious beasts do not behave the way Thakur, his gangsters, and their clients allegedly did.
The expose has naturally caused nationwide outrage. One hopes that this would help expedite justice for the young girls, many of whom now also reportedly have mental health issues. For Thakur and his gang are damaged goods; no politician is likely to have anything to do with them.
The question, however, is: how did it happen in Bihar? As mentioned earlier, evil persons exist everywhere; prostitution rings are also not uncommon; but a sex racket, involving minors, run by an influential person with state patronage is unprecedented and shocking.
The Indian Express reported on 31 July, “The Hindi daily owned by Brajesh Thakur, main accused in the case pertaining to alleged sexual exploitation of minors at a shelter in Muzaffarpur, barely published 300 copies daily, but its daily circulation was shown as 60,862 copies. The daily, Pratah Kamal, would get advertisements worth nearly Rs 30 lakh per year from the Bihar government, sources said. Police said Thakur did not have enough staffers or a good printing machine to publish the number of copies it claimed to.”
Within a few days after the uncovering of the scandal, the cops found out that Thakur’s circulation claims were manifestly bogus; but they could do that for years before the expose.
An official with the state Information and Public Relations Department (IPRD) told IE, “Brajesh Thakur has been an accredited journalist with us for over 25 years. He has also been a member of Press accreditation committee for three terms [two years each].” And he became a member of the committee thrice because its “members are decided by minister of the department”.
So much seems to have failed in Bihar—administration, law and order, vigilance officials, police and intelligence agencies, welfare mechanisms, the media. Even public morality: when dozens of girls are kept, brutalised, raped, and trafficked at a place in a small town, a lot many people know about their plight; but nobody’s conscience pricked them; it took a visit by a Mumbai-based body to expose the racket.
This scandal smashes to smithereens all the great claims made about the welfare state, sanskars, great and glorious Indian culture, etc. It was the welfarist apparatus, funded by taxpayer money, that was used to run a brothel. It happened under the watch of a Chief Minister who focuses more on moral policing (prohibition) than the real one.
A character in Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov says something to the effect: “If there is no God, everything is permitted.” I am not sure about God’s existence, but it is indubitable that when state withers away, anything goes—torture, rape, trafficking, paedophilia, sadism: anything means anything. The shelter home scandal shows that that stage has been reached in Bihar.
Socialism and other big-state ideologies have been discredited all over the world, but they continue to attract politicians in our part of the world (in our neighbourhood, Imran Khan wants to create an “Islamic welfare state”). The harm welfarism and other statist measures have done to India in general and Bihar in particular is incalculable. Like termite, welfarism has hollowed out the institutions of administration. And it has created the Brajesh Thakurs.