The Central Bureau of Investigation on Tuesday arrested a private medical practitioner, Ashwani Kumar, who allegedly injected girls at the Muzaffarpur shelter home with sedatives, reported The Indian Express. Central Bureau of Investigation spokesperson Abhishek Dayal confirmed that Kumar was arrested after police had recovered several types of sedatives from the shelter home.

Kumar was arrested soon after Shaista Praveen alias Madhu, a close aide of the main accused in the shelter home rape case Brajesh Thakur, had surrendered before a Central Bureau of Investigation court in Muzaffarpur on Tuesday and was then arrested, reported Hindustan Times. Earlier on Tuesday, former Bihar minister Manju Verma too had surrendered before a court in Begusarai in connection with the case.

An unidentified CBI official said the agency was yet to find why Kumar was called to the shelter home and the type of injections he had administered. “We have enough reason to suspect him,” the official said. “It is quite possible that several girls were abused after being injected sedatives.”

Meanwhile, CBI officials have termed Praveen’s arrest a “big catch”. The agency claimed that the girls at the shelter home were taken to her house where they “were taught dance and soliciting men”, PTI reported.

“I had no reason to hide,” Praveen told reporters before she surrendered at the court. “The reason why I have chosen to appear before the CBI now is that recently the investigators visited my residence a number of times and this was causing inconvenience to my family members,” she said. She also denied that she was in hiding and said that she was not named in the First Information Report.

Praveen said she had worked with Thakur, but she was not associated with the shelter home where the alleged rape incidents took place. “I cannot say whether Thakur was involved in any illegal activities,” she said. “Although I also handled the affairs of some of his newspapers, I deny reports that I used to liaison with ministers and other VIPs to promote Thakur’s business.”

The sexual exploitation of children at the shelter run by Thakur came to light in April after the Tata Institute of Social Sciences submitted an audit report of 110 shelter homes in the state. The audit had been ordered by the state government, which filed a first information report against 11 people – including Thakur – on May 31. A medical report confirmed the sexual assault of 34 inmates at the Muzaffarpur home.