Most of the characters in Bhakshak are inspired by real-life people, and though the creators have taken certain creative liberties, the crux of the matter is kept intact. The character of Bansi Sahu was based on the real-life local politician, Brajesh Thakur, who, under the pretext of running NGOs and doing social work, did all sorts of illegal activities. He made a mockery of the legal justice system and went about his business as if he knew nobody would even raise a finger against him. He had political immunity, though it was never proved because the power yielders ensured their reputation wasn’t tarnished, and somebody else took the blame. So, let’s find out who Brajesh Thakur was, what he was accused of, and where he is now.
Who was Brajesh Thakur?
Brajesh Thakur called himself a journalist, and under that disguise, he did all sorts of terrifying illicit activities. Because he had political contacts, he was able to go about his business in an unabashed manner. Thakur ran three newspaper dailies, namely Pratah Kamal, News Next, and Halat-e-Bihar, and there, too, he committed all sorts of frauds. His newspaper got a huge amount of funding, and it became the mouthpiece of the ruling party.
Apart from the newspapers, Thakur had several NGOs in and around the Muzaffarnagar area, and one of them, named Seva Sankalp Ewam Vikas Samiti, ran Balika Grih, where the juvenile girls were kept and tortured. His colleague, Madhu, helped him carry out his agendas, and they made sure that they forced minor girls to be a part of the sex trafficking business. In the film, it is shown that Bansi Sahu and his co-conspirators abused the girls for their own pleasure, but in addition to that, in reality, he was also running a sex trafficking ring. His misdeeds came to light when the Tata Institute of Social Sciences submitted their report to the state government, according to which, out of all the shelter homes in the state, they had spotted that in 17 of them some illegal activities were being committed, and in one of them specifically the girls were being subjected to horrific circumstances, and nobody dared to file a complaint because of the power Brajesh Thakur had. Even after the report came out, the police did not take any action, and that’s when a lot of activist groups, of which Nivedita Jha was also a part, started protesting against the government and asked them to at least initiate a formal investigation. Apart from sexual abuse, various other cases, such as money laundering, also surfaced against Brajesh Thakur.
How Did Brajesh Get Arrested?
The CBI team conducted a crackdown at Brajesh Thakur’s Balika Grih in August 2018, and they took the testimonies of all the girls present there. The girls told them how Brajesh and his accomplices came and sexually abused them and sometimes filmed them, too. They told the authorities that they did murder the girls who didn’t listen to them, and back in the day, they had seen blood-soaked gunny bags being taken out of the facility, which was how they disposed of the bodies, according to them. No, the CBI didn’t find any dead bodies on the premises, though it was claimed by many activists and people who were involved in the case that political pressure was being applied on the most coveted agency to suppress information so that the names of the key players didn’t come to light, and the accused were not charged with murder.
The CBI also interrogated Rahul Anand, Brajesh’s son, as it was on his name that the Hindi daily newspaper was registered. Rahul was taken into custody and interrogated for several hours and though he was released later, the CBI got to know about a lot of facts that they had no clue about earlier. The reason why Rahul Anand was taken into custody was that the girls were kept on the premises from where the Hindi daily was published, which is why the CBI official had reason to believe that he was also equally involved or at least knew about what was happening there.
Was Brajesh made a scapegoat?
Well, though there is no denying that Brajesh Thakur, as shown in Bhakshak, was a lecherous man who subjected the poor girls to abuse and torture, there were other key players involved in this crime who either got released due to the lack of evidence or whose names never came into the spotlight. In Bhakshak, we saw that the social welfare minister, Rajni Singh, and her husband, Brijmohan, knew about what was happening in Balika Grih, and the latter visited Bansi Sahu’s place on a regular basis and took advantage of the poor girls. It is true that similar allegations were made against the real-life social welfare minister of Bihar, Manju Verma, along with her husband, Chandeshwar.
After the incident came to light and the authorities learned about Manju Verma’s involvement, she went missing for a few months. But the pressure increased, and the Supreme Court took suo-moto cognizance of the case. It was then that Manju Verma came out of hiding and soon refined her position. She told the press that Brajesh Thakur’s call record should be made public so that everybody would know how many so-called white-collar people were in touch with him. She said that her husband was innocent, though the victims told the CBI that he was a frequent visitor to Balika Grih. But apart from that resignation, nothing more happened to Manju Verma.
Obviously, it was necessary for the ruling party to at least pretend that they were conducting a fair trial, but the reality was far from that. The incident didn’t have an adverse impact on Verma’s political career, and she and Chandeshwar were acquitted of all the charges and given a clean chit by the CBI. The fact that the investigation was conducted in such a careless manner and that many aspects were intentionally left out was proof that there were certain influential members belonging to the ruling party who were controlling the narrative. Nivedita Jha had to file four PILs, and she pointed out that the investigation was not being conducted in a fair manner, as evidently the ruling party was not letting them.
Where is Brajesh Thakur now?
Brajesh Thakur was sentenced to life imprisonment under the POSCO Act, together with 18 other people who were charged with abetting and conspiring with the politician. Brajesh appealed against the judgment in 2020 in the Delhi High Court. As of now, he is still in jail, though recently, his mother, Manorma Devi, and wife, Kumari Asha, got much-needed relief when the Supreme Court extended their interim protection from arrest. Brajesh used to get grants from the government, and obviously, that money never reached the girls or whosoever needed it. As of now, he is still in prison, serving his sentence.