Brajesh Thakur, the politically-connected man arrested for the rape and torture of more than 30 girls at a shelter home in Bihar, hasn’t spent much time in prison and probably wasn’t aware of the surprise checks conducted around Independence Day. Or didn’t care. So when a team of district administrators and police officers visited the jail hospital on Saturday, he wasn’t on his bed but in the visitors’ area of the jail.
They were surprised. So was he.
A quick search led to the seizure of two pages from him. It was a list of names and mobile numbers of 40 people that an administration official says, indicates he still had been pulling some strings.
The officials did not find a mobile phone on him. He wouldn’t have any. This is why, he had to note down the phone numbers of people he could phone to call in a favour on the two sheets.
News agency PTI said names of some powerful people, including a minister, were on these two sheets. The document has been sealed and sent to the CBI, which has taken over investigations.
On Saturday, CBI officials questioned Brajesh Thakur’s son and have already called for his medical reports.
Thakur was arrested on June 2, but hasn’t really been interrogated by the police because he was quickly sent to jail by the judge.
It is here that the doctors, on paper, appear to have discovered that he had ailments which required medical attention. After spending more than two weeks in a hospital outside, he was sent back to the jail hospital.
Officials said it wasn’t still clear how he had been making the phone calls. If he was using one of the landlines at the jail superintendent’s office or someone’s mobile phone.
Of the 70 days that Thakur has spent in custody, he has spent only five-six days in the Muzaffarpur central prison’s jail cell.
Thakur, whose NGO ran many shelter homes, is one of the 10-odd people arrested for the rape, beatings and torture of girls, some as young as seven, over the past four years.
The girls were drugged, raped, forced to sleep naked and scalded with boiling water by Thakur and his staff, a police charge-sheet has revealed.
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had handed over the case of the Central Bureau of Investigation when the case appeared to be getting too hot. Mr Kumar’s social welfare minister had to quit this week after pressure mounted on the government over reports that her husband had close links with Brajesh Thakur.
Leader of the opposition Tejashwi Yadav is building pressure on Nitish Kumar over this case, wondering why the police never moved the high court to seek Brajesh Thakur’s custodial interrogation. A junior judge had asked the police to question him in the jail.
Mr Yadav, who went public with a list of 20 questions for Nitish Kumar, underlined that the Chief Minister should come clean on the officials who had paid lakhs of rupees for advertising to Thakur’s newspaper that only published 200-400 copies.