Patna Shelter Home Owner Arrested After Mysterious Death Of Two Women Inmates
After Muzaffarpur in Bihar, yet another state-run shelter home for women with special needs in Patna has found itself amidst controversies after two of its inmates – a 17-year-old girl and a 40-year-old woman died under mysterious circumstances on August 10. This incident came after the police had raided ‘Asra home’ which is located in Rajiv Nagar area of Patna.
Reportedly, while the two girls were brought dead to the Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH), the police came to know of the incident only on August 12. Meanwhile, the hospital had conducted post-mortems without informing the police and the body of the 17-year-old was also cremated on August 11. The body of the 40-year-old woman was scheduled for a second post-mortem on August 13.
While a case has been registered against four, two employees of the NGO Anumaya Human Resources Foundation, which has been running the shelter home since May 2018, under the state social welfare department, have been arrested. NGO secretary Chirantan Kumar, its treasurer Manisha Dayal, who is also reported to be the owner of the shelter home, have been booked by the police. The shelter home, which is now under strict police invigilation houses 70 inmates aged between 14 and 45 years of age.
According to the Times of India, Babli (40) and Poonam Bharti (17) had been staying in the shelter home for the last three months. While the post-mortem reports of the deceased are awaited, the shelter management is saying that the girls were suffering from diarrhoea and high fever.
The daily quoted the PMCH medical superintendent Dr Rajiv Ranjan Prasad as saying, “A staffer of the shelter brought a woman and a girl to the hospital Friday night. They were brought dead. We immediately suggested postmortem because any matter related to shelter homes is sensitive. The postmortem was conducted first by a single doctor, but we were asked to get the postmortem done again by a medical board.”
After the Police were informed of the incident, a board was formed to look into the medical histories of the two. An investigation is still underway to determine the culpability of the shelter homeowners, specifically the reason for the delay in notifying the police and alleged neglect towards the residents. Refuting those claims, Manisha Dayal, who has since then been arrested told The Indian Express that both the girls were sick and were undergoing treatment. She added that while Babli was brought dead, Poonam was immediately put on ventilator support.
Surprise check at Asra Home
Reportedly, the state social welfare department to check the conditions of shelter homes in Bihar along with Police had raided the Asra home on August 10, mere hours earlier on the same day when the two girls died. According to NDTV, the department found several irregularities and ordered the shelter home to be shifted from Rajiv Nagar. Moreover, a 50-year-old man named Ram Nagina Singh alias Banarasi was arrested for allegedly trying to help few inmates to flee from the shelter homes. However, the police weren’t informed about the ill-health of the two girls who were taken to the hospital later that night.
Further police investigation into the matter has unravelled more information about the inner workings of the three-storied rented shelter home. According to neighbours quoted in the Hindustan Times, “We often used to see SUVs stopping at the shelter home during midnight and in the wee hours. Many a time, we saw the shelter home women being taken away in the cars late in the night and dropped back in the wee hours.” Others have said that the girls were not allowed to mingle with the locals.
Who is Manisha Dayal?
After the incident came to the fore and the subsequent arrest of Manisha Dayal, a picture of her with JD(U) leader and minister Shyam Rajak went viral on social media, which shifted the focus on probable connections to the ruling government in Bihar. As per reports, Dayal’s NGO enjoys a political backing from the state minister.
However, while providing a clarification for the picture in question, he told ANI:
I am a social worker&I have social responsibilities.These 2 persons came&invited me for women cricket program.I went&attended it during which this photo was clicked.I had no clue about their shelter home:Shyam Rajak,JDU on his name&photo with owner of Patna's 'Aasra Home' #Bihar pic.twitter.com/TKcFgr3HA6
— ANI (@ANI) August 13, 2018
Reportedly, Dayal is linked to a number of NGOs which are running in Bihar and according to ABP Live, she is a known personality among the social and political spheres of Bihar and she even runs a magazine. Dayal is associated with NGOs like Anumaya Human Resource Foundation, Aatma Foundation, Bhama Shah Foundation, Sparsh Dedix Research Society and Nav Nirvity Foundation.
The Muzaffarpur shelter case
In July 2018, it was revealed that 34 girls in a state-run shelter home in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur were subjected to continued rape, torture and assault by the staff of the shelter home. One victim, who was rescued, claimed that most of the girls who were residing there were raped by the journalist/owner Brajesh Thakur, along with Vineet Kumar, a member of a child welfare committee, who ran the NGO.
Reportedly, it has also been revealed that Thakur was getting 40 lakhs per annum from the state government to run the shelter. He was given a tender to run an old age home and a Juvenile home as well. An NGO ran the ‘Balika Grih’ shelter home called Sewa Sankalp Evam Vikas Samiti. As per reports, Brajesh was given the tender to run the shelter home by the state Social Welfare Department.
The Logical Indian take
Shelters like these are supposed to be a haven for girls who have had difficult lives. In such kind of a place, abuse by people in the position of trust and power in addition to medical negligence is despicable. The police and authorities should take stringent actions against those who were at the helm of affairs. Moreover, stringent accountability and responsibility mechanisms need to be put in place and implemented without fail.