Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Monday said Social Welfare Minister Manju Verma has denied her husband’s involvement in the Muzaffarpur shelter home rape case. At least 34 girls were sexually assaulted at the institution, a matter which came to light last month. The Central Bureau of Investigation is inquiring into the case.

“If someone related to the minister is involved, they will not be spared,” Kumar said at a press conference in Patna, according to ANI. “But why is this matter being raised only now? We had called her and she denied any involvement. How is it justified to level baseless allegations?”

Kumar was responding to calls for Verma’s resignation – not just from the Opposition but also from a state Bharatiya Janata Party leader – after the wife of an accused claimed that the minister’s husband used to visit the shelter home.

The chief minister ordered all district magistrates to inspect shelter homes for children and women in Bihar. He said that adequate security arrangements should be made at these homes to ensure the safety of inmates.

He accused Opposition parties of “just wanting to change the debate” and said they were not concerned about the welfare of the girls, News18 reported.

Meanwhile, the Patna High Court on Monday asked the Bihar government and the CBI to submit a detailed action report in the case. Kumar, in his press conference, backed a High Court-monitored CBI inquiry into the case. Advocate General Lalit Kishore said the court has given the state government two weeks to submit the report and include details about the girls’ rehabilitation, ANI reported.

Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi rebuked Opposition leaders Tejashwi Yadav and Rabri Devi for demanding the chief minister’s resignation. “Those who are embroiled in scams and have been summoned by courts for irregularities in railway tenders are demanding resignations,” Modi told reporters.

The case

The sexual exploitation of children in the Muzaffarpur shelter came to light after Mumbai’s Tata Institute of Social Sciences submitted an audit report of 110 shelter homes in the state in April. The audit had been ordered by the state government, which filed a first information report in connection with the Muzaffarpur case on May 31.

The police initially said 16 girls had been sexually assaulted. Later, the figure was revised to 34 on the basis of a medical report released by the Patna Medical College and Hospital. Ten of the 11 accused have been arrested so far.

On Sunday, the Bihar government suspended six officials of a state child protection unit for negligence. The assistant directors of Muzaffarpur, Munger, Araria, Madhubani, Bhagalpur and Bhojpur districts were suspended on grounds that they did not act even after being informed about the alleged sexual abuse.