Patna: The new Social Welfare Minister in the Bihar state government, Krishna Nandan Prasad Verma, offered prayers for his official chair before sitting on it.
The ministry has become a hot seat, amid a child sex abuse scandal that has hit the Social Welfare Department.
The department is now under the scanner of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has created a sort of panic among the people in power as they look reluctant to get charge of this department.
Prasad Verma, who heads the education portfolio, was given additional charge of social welfare ministry after predecessor Manju Verma resigned on Wednesday.
Her departure was prompted by the surfacing of her husband’s name in the shelter home sex scandal.
Local TV grabs showed Verma near the chair and offering prayers with folded hands while bowing his head with reverence before he sat on the seat.
Although he didn’t explain the reason behind his prayers to the chair, observers say the minister may be praying to the chair to spare him from any controversy/troubles in future now that the social welfare department is already under scanner for all the wrong reasons.
“Mistakes have happened here but slowly everything will be corrected. Those who have committed wrongs will be taken to task,” the minister told the media after taking the charge of his office.
His department is under fire after a massive sex scandal took place at a government-run shelter home in Muzaffarpur town being run by an NGO headed by Brajesh Thakur, now in jail. Thakur is the prime accused in the rape of minors lodged at the care home. An official report says as many as 34 girls were sexually abused at the care home for years.
Sexual abuse of inmates at care homes remains a matter of serious concern in Bihar. The Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), a multi-campus public funded research university in Mumbai which recently carried out social audit of 110 welfare institutions in Bihar, has reported gross sexual abuse of inmates in at least 15 shelter homes running across the state.
The TISS in its report has especially raised questions over the prevailing state of affairs at shelter homes for both girls and boys running at Muzaffarpur, Patna, Munger, Gaya, Araria and Kaimur districts.
“All of them were found to be running in violation of the respective schemes and the essence of the Juvenile Justice Act. The inmates’ right to life was in question in certain institutions,” the TISS said in its report.
The revelation led to registration of the case against the accused persons, ultimately leading to CBI investigation into the case under pressure from the opposition.