The Muzaffarpur shelter home case has taken the entire country by shock! The shelter where more than 40 girls were being sexually abused, was owned by a non-governmental organisation (NGO) which in turn is owned by Brajesh Thakur. Allegations have been made that Thakur had courted favours from none other than state Chief Minister Nitish Kumar but the ruling Janata Dal (United) have denied it by saying that Thakur had nothing to do with them or their CM.
An FIR was lodged on May 31 naming Thakur’s NGO, following which 10 people, including Thakur, were held. One person, former chairman of the district Child Welfare Committee, Dilip Verma, is absconding.
Thakur owns a premise with three buildings that had employee residences, a printing press, the family home and the now infamous shelter. Since his arrest, the girls have been moved to shelters across the state and the newspaper has stopped printing here. Thakur’s family has been printing Pratah Kamal, the Hindi daily since 1982. He also brought out Urdu daily Halaat-e-Bihar and English daily News Next from the same premises.
His father was a government middle school teacher and earned just Rs 1,200 per month. In the 1970s when he was still teaching, Radha Mohan Thakur started a Hindi daily – Vimal Vani. Unfortunately, it never took off and in 1982, he launched a 12-page daily Hindi broadsheet – Pratah Kamal. At the same time, he owned an agency to supply newsprint to hundreds of Bihar’s small and medium newspapers. He reportedly made a huge profit by diverting unused newsprint to bigger media houses.
In the mid-1980s, Radha Mohan’s name started featuring in controversies. A CBI probe was done into the alleged illegal sale of newsprint in several districts of the state, including Begusarai and Muzaffarpur. A few local newspapers also ran a campaign against him, alleging that he kept one floor of a Paharganj hotel booked for most time of the year.
In April 1987, Brajesh Thakur joined his father and started an NGO which has been running a home for girls, an old age home, a Swadhar Kendra (residential vocational training centre) and an ‘open shelter’ in Muzaffarpur; a women’s shelter in Betiah; and a centre for handicrafts and link workers (a NACO project for AIDS awareness) at Samastipur.
According to the police, the estimated cumulative earning from his NGO projects would be no less than Rs 2.5 crore a year. It said that if the earnings from his three newspapers are added, Thakur made at least Rs 3 crore a year.
Around 2000, Thakur came close to many politicians including Anand Mohan who is currently serving a life sentence for the lynching of then Gopalganj district magistrate G Krishnaiah. He contested 2000 Bihar Assembly election on a BSP ticket and emerged as the runner-up.