The Central Bureau of Investigation told the Supreme Court on Friday that it was investigating the alleged murder of 11 girls by the key accused in the Muzaffarpur shelter home case, Brajesh Thakur, and his accomplices, PTI reported.

In an affidavit filed in the Supreme Court, the investigating agency added that a “bundle of bones” were recovered from a burial ground. The agency, whose investigation has been called a farce, filed its seventh status report on Friday.

Thakur used to run the shelter home in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur district where at least 34 inmates were allegedly raped. The alleged sexual exploitation of the children to light in April 2018 after the Tata Institute of Social Sciences submitted an audit report of 110 shelter homes in the state to the state government. The Nitish Kumar government then filed a first information report against 11 people, including Thakur. The CBI has chargesheeted 21 people.

“During investigation, from the statement of victims recorded by IOs [investigating officers] and NIMHANS [National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro-Sciences] team, names of 11 girls emerged who were said to be allegedly murdered by the accused Brajesh Thakur and his accomplices,” the investigating agency said in its affidavit.

“On scrutiny of the details of these 11 girls entered in the master register [of shelter home], it was found that there were a total of 35 girls with identical/similar names who at one time or the other stayed at Balika Grih, Muzaffarpur,” the CBI said. “As per revelation made by the inmates before IOs, all the alleged burial grounds were excavated by local police/CBI.”

A petitioner has accused the agency of not conducting a fair inquiry and shielding the perpetrators. “Further investigation is still on,” the agency told the court, according to The Hindu. “Therefore, to contend that the allegations of murder have not been looked into or that graver provisions of law have not been invoked is entirely misconceived and premature.”

The agency denied that it had failed to conduct a thorough investigation or left out crucial leads. “It is denied that the investigation is a hogwash or investigation has avoided any crucial lead to shield any perpetrator,” the CBI said in its affidavit. “It is denied that the CBI is trying to shield the real perpetrators or that the leads given by victims regarding role of outsiders was intentionally not probed.”

A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Deepak Gupta heard the CBI’s submissions. The judges said they would issue a formal notice to the agency on the basis of the plea and asked it to respond within four weeks. The court, however, will continue hearing the case on May 6.