Bihar's Social Welfare minister Manju Verma resigned on Wednesday, bombarded by allegations that her husband has links to the Muzaffarpur shelter where over 30 girls, some as young as seven, were raped and tortured. NDTV had reported that call records confirm the minister's husband was in touch with Brajesh Thakur, the man who ran the horror home, and 17 calls were exchanged between them this year.
The call records also establish that between October and May, the minister's husband, Chandeshwar Verma, visited the shelter nine times, each time for several hours.
The minister was called by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar today. After the meeting, which went on for over 30 minutes, she resigned.
But Manju Verma went down defending her husband. "My husband was innocent yesterday, he is innocent today and will be proved innocent tomorrow," she told reporters. "But I resigned on moral grounds after media reports of call details revealed that my husband had spoken to Brajesh Thakur 17 times."
She also asserted that there was a "planned conspiracy" to target him.
The role of the minister's husband came under scrutiny when the wife of an arrested child protection officer demanded an investigation against him.
Shibha Kumari, the wife of Muzaffarpur Child Protection Officer Ravi Roshan, alleged that the minister's husband was a frequent visitor at the shelter where girls were allegedly exploited for sex, forced to sleep naked and scalded with hot water.
The police investigated the CDR or Call Data Records from three phones used by Brajesh Thakur, whose NGO run many homes and who is accused of sexually assaulting and beating the girls. It is still not clear whether Thakur spoke to the minister's husband after the scandal broke out.
On Monday, Nitish Kumar and his deputy Sushil Modi had ruled out the resignation of Manju Verma, saying there were "no incriminating documents" to merit her resignation. "She will resign when anything that suggests wrongdoing on her part comes up," said the Chief Minister at a press conference in Patna.
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