The social welfare department has suspended the six assistant directors of the child protection unit for not taking action despite being informed over the situation at the Muzaffarpur shelter home where 34 girls were allegedly drugged and raped.

According to media reports, the officers were posted as assistant directors of child protection units in Muzaffarpur, Munger, Araria, Madhubani, Bhagalpur and Bhojpur districts. They have been placed under suspension on account of “negligence and dereliction of duty”.

Notifications to this effect were issued late Saturday night.

All the officials, suspended with immediate effect, have been charged with “failure to take adequate legal action” with regard to “assault, indecent behaviour and other undesirable activities” at shelter homes within their respective areas of jurisdiction.

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The Muzaffarpur shelter home incident had surfaced in a social audit conducted by Mumbai-based Tata Institute of Social Sciences. An FIR was lodged by the state social welfare department in June, which led to the arrest of 10 people, including the owner of the shelter home.

The suspension orders also pointed out that TISS had flagged anomalies, which the officials “did not bring to the notice of higher officials in inspection reports”.

The six officials were directed at a state-level meeting in May to take necessary action in the light of the audit report’s findings, but their failure to do so resulted in lack of timely action against the guilty, which has caused “an embarrassment to the department and the government”, the suspension orders added.

Amid outrage over the horrifying case, the state government had handed over the investigation to the Central Bureau of Investigation.

The case was unearthed when the social welfare department filed a First Information Report or FIR based on a social audit of the shelter home by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai.

At the shelter home in Muzaffarpur, 34 girls – aged seven to fourteen- were drugged, raped, forced to sleep naked and scalded with boiling water. Some of the girls were also forced to go through abortion.

Breaking his silence, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, last week, described the case as “shameful”, promising strict, uncompromising action.

(With agency inputs)