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Boy Missing From Illegal Shelter Home for 3 Years, Nitish Kumar Administration Sleeps on Complaint

The district magistrate had recommended the social welfare ministry to initiate action in 2016, but it preferred to sleep on the file instead. The child is still missing and the person in question, Lal Mohan Rai, is roaming freely in Ara.

Alok Kumar | News18dmalok

Updated:August 8, 2018, 7:44 AM IST
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Boy Missing From Illegal Shelter Home for 3 Years, Nitish Kumar Administration Sleeps on Complaint
File photo of JD(U) leader and Bihar CM Nitish Kumar. (PTI)
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Patna: A self-proclaimed child rights activist opened an illegal shelter home at his own house in Bhojpur from where a minor boy went missing in 2015, but not even an FIR has been registered in the case so far.

The district magistrate had recommended the social welfare ministry to initiate action in 2016, but it preferred to sleep on the file instead. The child is still missing and the person in question, Lal Mohan Rai, is roaming freely in Ara.

Rai had also served on the state’s Juvenile Justice Board and his term was extended from 2008 to November 2014 by the state-level selection committee.

The missing boy was handed over to him by police on December 4, 2014, barely two weeks after he failed to get another extension on the JJ Board, a semi-judicial body that is responsible for monitoring institutions for juveniles in conflict with law.

His tenure at the board was also not without controversy as district and session judge of Ara had taken exception to his conduct and in a report submitted to the Patna High Court on August 28, 2014. The HC had sought a report after non-judicial members of the JJ Board, in absence of a principal magistrate, extended the leave of absence of a murder accused indefinitely.

News18 has accessed the documents which reflect major lapses in juvenile justice in the state at a time when Muzaffarpur shelter home sex scandal was exposed by social audit report of Tata Institute of Social Sciences.

When asked about the missing boy, a senior official of social welfare department said it would take time to search old files.

The investigation against Rai had started in March 2016 by the then SP. In his report to the district magistrate, he stated that the SHO of railway police had found a minor boy from one Saket Chaube and handed him over to Lal Mohan Rai, who was secretary of an NGO called Samagra Manav Vikas Samiti.

“We interrogated him on March 3. Rai told us that the boy fled from his house on April, 17, 2015. He claimed to have informed about the incident to the assistant director of child protection unit and Railway police. However, SHO of Railway police denied receiving any such information," he said.

Subsequent to finding the report, the then DM, Dr Veerendra Prasad Yadav, wrote a letter to the Director of the social welfare department of Patna on April, 29, 2016, informing him that the SP had asked the local police station to start legal action in this case. He also sought further action by the social welfare department in the matter.

But still no action has been taken. The whole episode raises serious questions on functioning of police and social welfare department, the biggest being that why was the boy handed over to a private person when there was an operational government-run observation home at Dhanupura, Arrah-Patna road.

It also clearly points to the tradition of passing the buck as the SP sent his investigation report to the DM and he forwarded it to the social welfare department instead of taking action. The social welfare department, headed by incumbent Manju Verma, simply sat on the report.

According to sources, Rai could have gotten another extension despite adverse remark of the judge but new selection criteria based on amended Juvenile Justice Act, 2015 made it impossible as the panel was now headed by a retired High Court Judge and tainted background was mentioned as one of the reasons for rejection.

Earlier, the selection panel was headed by a retired IAS officer and a person familiar with the selection process, told News18 that it was very easy to influence the panel.

When News18 contacted Rai, he simply evaded the questions and reiterated that he had informed the police about disappearance of the minor boy. When asked on what basis he kept the child at his house, he said, "I work for the interest of children. So everybody knows me here. People contact me when they find any wandering child."

On his stint as a Juvenile Justice Board member, he accused officials of defaming him and said he had filed a numbers of PILs related to the functioning of social welfare department.
| Edited by: Padmaja Venkataraman
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