The Lost Child — A thought-provoking podcast series by Suno India supported by Firstpost

We often wonder about the circumstances that lead children into shelter homes or into homes of strangers who adopt them and make them their own. To encounter the situation on the ground, Suno India supported by Firstpost brings to you a thought-provoking series ‘The Lost Child’ that gives the tragic insights and ground reality of child shelter homes in India. The Lost Child Podcast is not just about going beyond the physical walls of shelter homes but also the societal walls which have been built around these children invisibilizing them.

The first episode of the series traces the story of crime and abuse Muzaffarpur Shelter Home ‘Balika Griha’ Case — where Protectors became Monsters.

The town of Muzaffarpur hit the national headlines last year when a state-wide audit of the shelter homes for women, children and the elderly revealed an unimaginable crime that was being carried out in the ‘Balika Griha’. This episode explores how Santosh Singh, editor of Kashish News reported relentlessly for over 6 months on the case where several girls from the Balika Griha shelter home faced violence and were being abused sexually.

To dig deeper into this dreadful issue and to highlight the tragic insights of Balika Griha, our editor, Padma Priya traveled to Bihar in July to meet Santosh Singh and others who know more about the case. She also visited the shelter home in Muzaffarpur and met the neighbors there to know more about the case. Click here to watch the full video!

This is the Balika Griha shelter home in Muzaffarpur where the girls were abused for years. Through the audit and the following investigation, it came to light that around 36 of the 44 girls living there had been sexually abused. More were sexually assaulted and faced violence. Off record conversations with those in the known revealed that there was blood splattered on the walls.

It was later in June, 2018 that the CBI took over the case from the special investigating team of Bihar police and filed a charge sheet. And, in June this year, the Supreme Court granted 3 months’ time to CBI to complete the probe. Pic: A lane around the shelter home. The shelter home also housed the printing press of Brajesh Thakur’s family run newspaper Prataah Kamal.

Murders of girls had taken place in this shelter home and the bodies were buried in the residence itself. Part of the shelter home was demolished by the CBI when it was revealed to them by the girls that some occupants had been allegedly murdered. This shelter home is owned by Brajesh Thakur, a local leader and a journalist with political connections.

Want to know more about the case? Tap here and do listen to full episode here!

The second episode of the series follows up with an interview of Tarique Mohammed, who blew the lid of this horrendous scandal and led the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) team through the social audit which brought this issue to light. The purpose of the social audit was to help in effective planning to improve the quality of services and care and enhance the level of accountability. This 110 page social audit report revealed that a few organisations were found to be running in total violation of the rights of the residents, carrying out and condoning acts of severe physical and sexual violence. Do check out the report here!

In his interview with us, he mentions-

“You know it is like you read something, you see something on television it hits you for few seconds and then you carry on with your things but now that we know the children, you know it has been impacting us very very deeply and you know team has been extremely disturbed with what has been coming out and now since then any news of abuse in any institution across has been extremely disturbing and you know it is very extremely unfortunate that nothing has actually changed even after you know such a massive tragedy because you should look at the monetary system that are in place, the mechanism that are there, the allocations that are there, nothing has changed.”

“Just think of the problem that we will have if these children they grow 15–20 yrs later, when they grow into adults, the kind of you know anger they have against the society. That you know nobody cared for us, nobody you know bothered where we lived or not, I think that is a very dangerous situation that we are creating.”

In this episode, Tarique shares his observations and experience at Balika Griha. Read more about it here and listen to the full episode here.

This blog will be updated as and when new episodes will be released.

*Photos: Padma Priya and other sources.

Suno India is a podcast platform which is solely dedicated to audio stories on issues that matter.