The Central Bureau of Investigation on Friday searched five residences of former Bihar Social Welfare Minister Manju Verma in Patna, Motihari and Bhagalpur in connection with the alleged rapes in a shelter home in Muzaffarpur district, PTI reported.

Verma stepped down from her post on August 8 after allegations surfaced about her husband Chandeshwar Verma’s links to Brajesh Thakur, who used to run the shelter. She accused the media and the Opposition of creating a furore and demanded that Thakur’s call records be made public. The wife of an accused in the case claimed that Chandeshwar Verma was a regular visitor to the shelter home.

The investigating agency on Friday also searched seven premises connected to Thakur, his friends and relatives. Thakur has denied links with the minister and claimed that he has been framed in the case for planning to join the Congress. He has, however, admitted that he used to speak to her husband Chandeshwar Verma about “political issues”.

The sexual exploitation of children in the 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 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. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has promised to take action against those found guilty in the case.