New Delhi: Manju Verma, Bihar’s former social welfare minister, who is evading arrest in an Arms Act case which cropped up in course of a CBI probe into the Muzaffarpur shelter home sex scandal, was declared an absconder by Begusarai’s  Manjhaul Court which also ordered for attaching her properties. In a setback to Verma, the court also turned down an application (filed by her counsel), wherein the minister had pleaded that she was not evading arrest, but “seeking relief as per law” and hence, she may not be proclaimed an absconder.

The case under the Arms Act was registered against the ex-minister and her husband Chandrashekhar Verma at Cheria Bariyarpur police station in the district following recovery of a huge cache of ammunition from their residence. The recovery had been made by a CBI team which had raided the premises in connection with the Muzaffarpur shelter home sex abuse case of over 30 minor girls. (Also read: SC Rebukes Bihar Govt For Delay in Arrest of Manju Verma)

Verma had stepped down as the social welfare minister in August after reports suggested of ‘close links’ between her husband Chandrashekhar Verma and prime accused Brajesh Thakur in the Muzaffarpur shelter home scandal. Last month her husband had surrendered before District Court Manjhaul in Begusarai.

Over 30 girls were allegedly raped at the shelter home run by Brajesh Thakur, the head of a state-funded NGO. The alleged sexual exploitation of the girls was first highlighted in an audit report submitted by TISS to the state’s social welfare department. An FIR was lodged against 11 people, including Thakur, on May 31. The probe was later taken over by the CBI. The sexual abuse of 34 of the 42 inmates was confirmed in their medical examination.

(With inputs from agencies)