How rape cases against lawmakers paint a sorry picture of Bihar politics

sexual assault, The Federal, English news website
The actress in 2017 was allegedly assaulted in her car by several men, allegedly sent by actor Dileep. Photo for representational purpose only: iStock

From ancient scholar Chanakya to India’s first President Dr Rajendra Prasad to more recently Jayaprakash Narayan (JP), politicians from Bihar have always drawn respect for their exemplary statesmanship, dedication and honesty. But the current breed of lawmakers from the state have failed to live up to the reputation of these stalwarts and are soon turning into ‘lawbreakers’. The growing incidents of sexual assault cases involving top politicians of the state show that it is just a matter of time before the reputation of the state’s politics goes down the drain.

When protectors turn predators 

In a recent case, the suspected role of an RJD MLA in a sex scandal has come to the fore, after police busted a sex racket in Bhojpur. A 12-year-old girl who had fled the clutches of the gang running the racket and had informed the police about it, had said that she was often taken to Flat No 28, the official residence of a politician at Harding Park in Patna.

While police have ascertained that the flat belongs to an RJD MLA who is currently not attending the Assembly, they haven’t divulged his name as the investigation to confirm his identity is still underway. The ruling BJP has now sought action on the basis of the statement given by the victim. The State Women Commission while taking cognizance of the case has asked police to inform it about the action taken in the case.

The case is just the tip of the iceberg. An RJD lawmaker was recently convicted for sexually assaulting a minor girl. The victim, a resident of Nalanda district was lured by a woman on the pretext of attending a birthday party in the locality in February 2016, but was instead handed over to the RJD legislator Raj Ballabh Yadav.

The victim in her statement to the police had alleged that Yadav forced her to watch porn and repeatedly raped her the entire night. He also made an MMS of the whole act and threatened her to make it public if she revealed the assault to anyone, the girl, then a student of Class X, alleged. The victim, eventually mustered enough courage to register a case against the accused, but he went into hiding soon. He surrendered a month later and is currently serving a life term in a local prison.

It came as a shock for many, when the RJD gave a Lok Sabha ticket to Yadav’s wife Vibha Devi from the Nawada seat in the recent elections.  Rabri Devi, former chief minister and wife of RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav also campaigned for Vibha Devi, telling voters in her speeches that Yadav has been falsely implicated in the case. Vibha Devi was one of the few politicians for whom Rabri had campaigned for in the elections, while the entire poll campaign was led by her younger son Tejashwi Yadav.

Shocking mass rape 

Hardly had the dust settled on the case when another sex scandal dealt a further blow to the already dented reputation of Bihar politicians.

As many as 34 destitute girls lodged in a government-funded shelter home run by an NGO in Muzaffarpur were allegedly mass raped.  The incident was exposed by the Tata Institute of Social Science, through a social audit of the shelter home. The shelter home was being run by a media baron Brajesh Thakur, the main accused, who enjoyed close proximity with the powers-that-be.

CBI, during investigation found that husband of then state social welfare minister Manju Verma was a close accomplice of Thakur. As per report the duo, had spoken 17 times between January and May 2018. Verma had to step down after the scandal came to light and her husband is serving a prison sentence. The Supreme Court is monitoring the case.

Another such sex scandal involving politicians which had hogged limelight was the 1999 Shilpi Jain murder case. Shilpi’s semi-nude body along with her boyfriend Gautam was recovered from a white Maruti Zen parked in the garage of a RJD leader in Patna. For years, the needle of suspicion moved towards Lalu’s wayward brother-in-law Sadhu Yadav. Eventually the CBI closed the case in 2003 saying the two had committed suicide.

Past history of crime 

The state’s notoriety for incidents of sexual assaults and sex scams goes back to the 1990s. In 1998, the alleged rape of Champa Biswas, wife of an IAS officer, during the RJD’s rule, shook the whole nation. The matter would have remained under wraps but for the victim who shot off a letter to the then Bihar Governor Sundar Singh Bhandari seeking action against the culprits.

In her complaint, Champa, 30, wife of 1982 batch IAS officer BB Biswas—then serving as the director of the social security in the state’s labour department—alleged that 27-year-old Mritunjay Yadav, a RJD leader, and his friends raped not only her, but her mother , her sister-in-law, her niece and their two maidservants. She also alleged that she had to undergo one abortion but finally opted for sterilization to “avoid pregnancy due to repeated rape”. When Jharkhand was carved out of Bihar, the IAS officer shifted to Jharkhand and died due to kidney failure in 2002. Reports said he spent his last days in acute penury. But the real blow to Champa Biswas family came 12 years later in 2010 when the accused was acquitted by the Patna High Court.

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