Patna, July 30: The tainted Muzaffarpur NGO apparently was run by a secretary whom no one ever saw, say media reports. The Indian Express reports that Brajesh Thakur’s NGO had a “ghost” secretary. The NGO was registered as a society and the post of secretary is the most important in a registered society. The NGO got about Rs 1 crore every year for its five Muzaffarpur shelters alone. It also ran two projects at Samastipur and one at Bettiah, which have been cancelled since. (Also read: Tejashwi Accuses Nitish of Sanctioning Another Tender to Accused) Also Read - Delhi Court Sentences Brajesh Thakur, 11 Others to Life Imprisonment in Muzaffarpur Shelter Home Case
A ‘Ramesh Kumar’ is listed as the secretary at the Registrar of Societies while ‘Brajesh Kumar’ is its chief functionary. However, Muzaffarpur Town DSP Mukul Kumar Ranjan, who prepared the report of the case, said, “We did not find any person by the name of Ramesh Kumar. Brajesh Thakur, too, did not give us any clue about the NGO’s secretary, who seems to be non-existent.” Also Read - Muzaffarpur Shelter Home Case: Brajesh Thakur Among 19 Convicted by Delhi Court; Arguments on Quantum of Sentence on Jan 28
Police suspect that Thakur used the name “Brajesh Kumar” to pose as a contact person for the NGO. Thakur’s daughter Nikita Anand told the daily that he was not “associated” with the NGO. Muzaffarpur Child Protection Unit assistant director Devesh Sharma said, “It was only after December 2017 that the state government took a policy decision to route funds to NGOs through the district, rather than the social welfare department headquarters. We did ask Brajesh Thakur about Ramesh Kumar but got no answers. We did not see or meet Kumar even once. As we had to disburse continuing quarterly grants to the NGO, we did so once.” Also Read - Muzaffarpur Shelter Home Case: Supreme Court Grants 3 Months Time to CBI to Complete Probe
But did they find anything amiss in the running of the NGO, Sharma told the daily, “Thakur had little to do with us as he had been getting funds from Patna before December 2017. Whenever there was a meeting, or an inspection at the NGO’s office, we always saw him working as the all-in-all of the NGO.” (Also read: Girls Would Cut Themselves to Avoid Being Assaulted)
Documents showed the social welfare department’s Muzaffarpur wing raised questions about “incompetent staff”, installation of CCTV cameras, and the presence of fewer girls at the shelter than the number of enrolments. As far as the “ghost” secretary was concerned, social welfare department principal secretary Atul Prasad said: “Such persons can go to any length to commit fraud. We have now taken a host of measures to select a genuine NGOs to allot our projects. We have now engaged TISS and Unicef to do a fresh social audit. Once we get their reports, we will have a grading system to rate an NGO by the end of this year. We will also soon install CCTV cameras in our shelter homes, and will also transfer the salaries of NGO staff directly to their accounts to ensure transparency.”
It was the social audit report of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) that blew the lid off the “highly questionable” working of the NGO.