“All Isn’t Well” In Bihar: Top Court On Being Told Ex-Minister In Hiding

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Manju Verma had resigned as Social Welfare Minister in the Nitish Kumar government.

New Delhi:

"All is not well" in Bihar, the Supreme Court said a day after it pulled up the Bihar police for failing to arrest a former state minister after live cartridges were found at her home in Begusarai.

"It's very strange. The government doesn't know where its former minister is. Has she gone into hiding?" said the top court after the Bihar government admitted that the minister wasn't traceable.

Manju Verma had resigned as Social Welfare Minister in the Nitish Kumar government after over 30 women at a shelter in Muzaffarpur were raped and sexually abused allegedly by the man whose NGO ran the facility. Manju Verma's husband Chandrashekhar Verma had links with the main accused Brajesh Thakur and met him several times between January and June.

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After 50 live cartridges were recovered from her home during a raid by the CBI in connection with the Muzaffarpur case, the Patna High Court dismissed her request for protection from arrest.

On Tuesday, the top court asked the Bihar government why the minister hadn't been arrested while directing Brajesh Thakur to be shifted out of Bihar to the high security jail at Patiala in Punjab. Thakur "is a very influential person and obstructing the ongoing probe…he should be shifted to a jail outside Bihar" for a fair trial, the court had said.

Chandrashekhar Verma surrendered on Monday. Verma, who was also missing for over a month, surrendered after the Patna High Court rejected his bail pleas.

Over 30 young girls and women were sexually abused in the Muzaffarpur shelter home, confirmed their medical examination. The sexual exploitation of the girls was first highlighted in an audit report submitted by the Tata Institute of Social Science (TISS) to the state's social welfare department in April. The first case was filed on May 31 against 11 people, including Brajesh Thakur.

The NGO running the shelter was blacklisted and the girls were shifted to shelters in Patna and Madhubani.

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