The CBI today raided nearly a dozen properties in four districts of Bihar, including residences of former state minister Manju Verma in Patna and in her native place Begusarai, in connection with the Muzaffarpur shelter home sex scandal case, officials said. Properties at seven locations in Muzaffarpur were raided, including a hotel belonging to the main accused Brajesh Thakur and residences of a few of his friends and relatives, they said.
The central probe agency also raided the residence of Madhu Kumari, said to be closely involved with Thakur’s NGO activities. She has been absconding. The agency raided Thakur’s home in his ancestral village Panchdaha in Muzaffarpur district. The residence of Ravi Raushan, an accused in the case and who was posted as district child protection officer in Muzaffarpur, was also raided in Motihari in East Champaran district. Raushan has been arrested.
During investigation, Raushan’s wife had taken the name of former minister Verma’s husband – Chandeshwar Prasad Verma – in connection with the sexual abuse of 34 girls lodged at the state-funded shelter home run by Thakur’s NGO in Muzaffarpur city. She alleged that Verma’s husband was a frequent visitor to the shelter home. Verma resigned as social welfare minister last week after it was disclosed that Thakur had spoken to her husband 17 times between January and June this year.
Speaking to the media from a prison van inside a court complex, Thakur last week admitted he had been speaking to Verma’s husband but maintained they talked about political issues mainly. In two cars, CBI officials arrived at Verma’s residence on Strand Road in Patna this morning and carried out an intensive search there. The residence of her in-laws under Cheria Bariarpur assembly segment in Begusarai, which she represents, was also raided.
Other places raided in Patna included the office of Thakur’s Hindi daily ‘Pratah Kamal’ on Buddha Marg and the home of a counsellor attached to the state social welfare department in Pataliputra Colony. After the scandal broke out nearly two months ago, opposition parties in the state demanded a CBI probe into the case and its monitoring by the high court.
Under pressure, the state government conceded both the demands and requested the high court to monitor the probe and ensure a speedy trial of the accused by appointing a special judge.
The matter had come to light earlier this year when the Bihar Social Welfare Department filed an FIR based on a social audit of the shelter home by Mumbai-based Tata Institute of Social Sciences. The audit report stated that girls at the shelter home had complained of sexual abuse.