After weeks of criticism and pressure from the opposition parties, Bihar Social Welfare Minister Manju Verma on Wednesday resigned. Her resignation came amidst allegations that her husband was also involved in the raping, torturing and murder of young girls at a shelter home in a Muzaffarpur shelter home.
The state government led by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had come under widespread criticism for its inaction for months even though the audit by Tata Institute of Social Science had highlighted the brutalities being committed at the shelter home way back in February. Several girl had said that one of the men who would frequently visit the shelter home to sexually exploit them was one netaji, who was widely suspected to be Verma’s husband.
A report by IANS said that Verma was asked by Kumar to step down from her post. This was a day after Kumar faced condemnation for insensitivity as a video of his laughter while talking about the Muzaffarput horror went viral.
“Manju Verma visited Chief Minister’s residence and had a meeting with Nitish Kumar for over 30 minutes. After that she resigned,” IANS quoted an official. Even thtough earlier this week, Kumar had astonishingly defended his minister saying that he had spoken to her ans she denied charges against her husband.
The main accused in the rape of 34 girls was identified as Brajesh Thakur, who was later arrested. A group of angry residents threw ink on him on Wednesday as police produced him before a court. Thakur had close links with her husband Chandeshwar Verma.
On Wednesday, Thakur admitted that he used to talk to Chandeshwar Verma on telephone regularly.
Reacting to the development, Delhi Commission for Women chief, Swati Maliwal, tweeted, “Bihar WCD Minister finally resigns and admits that the same is due to pressure of media. Wonder why Nitish Kumar did not initiate any action against her? Even now resignation is voluntary and only under pressure of media! Seriously no words to describe the apathy of Bihar Govt.”
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which is probing the case, has reportedly retrieved the call details of Chandeshwar Verma, according to which he and Brajesh Thakur talked 17 times between January and May this year.
“Thanks to the CDR, there is clear evidence that Brajesh Thakur was in regular touch with Manju Verma’s husband Chandrasekhar alias Chandeshwar Verma, whose whereabouts is not known so far,” a senior police officer was quoted by news agency.
Only a few days ago, one girl, who was rescued from Muzaffarpur and transferred to another shelter home in Madhubani, had gone missing. The owner of the Madhubani shelter home, Pragya Bharti, too had close links with the ruling JDU in Bihar.