Bihar's embattled Social Welfare Minister Manju Verma resigned from her post on Wednesday after meeting with the state's Chief Minister, Nitish Kumar, in the immediate aftermath of call records as well as the Muzaffarpur mass rape main-accused Brajesh Thakur confirming that her husband had been in regular contact with the latter.
The resignation comes following days of sustained and mounting pressure on Verma, who also ran the ministry that oversaw the Thakur-owned NGO-run shelter homes where the horrific exploitation of minors took place.
On Friday, Republic TV had questioned Manju Verma at an event, the theme of which, ironically, was saving the girl child. At that time, Verma had unleashed her security personnel at Republic TV's reporter. Upon finally being confronted, Verma had angrily rejected the notion that she should resign or be answerable in any way.
"What allegation has been put? What allegation has been put? CBI is investigating. The truth will come out. Now what? What I had to say, I've said", she had said.
Shortly after that, and in at least one more press interaction since, the Bihar Chief Minister had defended her, in connection with his government's basic defence over the mass rape, that it was they who had initiated the social audit of state-run shelter homes that had resulted in Mumbai-based TISS flagging the atrocities being inflicted upon the residents at Thakur's Balika Grih at Muzaffarpur.
Bihar's Deputy Chief Minister, Sushil Kumar Modi, had also rejected the idea that Bihar ministers should resign in the matter, opining that it would happen only when guilt had been established.
When Republic TV sought a comment from Manju Verma's staff over he resignation, she said, "Ma'am will explain and speak to media tomorrow"
The allegations against Manju Verma's husband came to light from the family of Ravi Roshan (a Child Protection Officer in Muzaffarpur), who has been arrested in the case. Roshan's family has alleged that he was arrested for exposing the atrocities at the home and had even written to the Bihar government expressing the need for CCTV cameras there. Roshan had allegedly said that the husband of Manju Verma used to visit the NGO and was allegedly involved in the exploitation of minors. The family had sought the resignation of Manju Verma alleging that she could influence the investigation.
On Wednesday, after Brajesh Thakur was produced at the Muzaffarpur District Court, he confirmed that he had spoken to Manju Verma's husband multiple times -- 9 visits to the shelter home between January and May 2018, as per sources and 17 phone calls -- but only shared a 'normal' relationship with him. Thakur alleged that he and Mr Verma had only discussed politics.
Thakur made a number of other claims as well, denying that he had been named by any victim and even that the mass rape had taken place (all of which had been contradicted with proof already by Republic TV's numerous investigations in the matter.) Sensationally, Thakur claimed a conspiracy to implicate him, by rivals in the newspaper industry and also politically, as he, by his own admission, was going to contest the 2019 Lok Sabha elections under a Congress ticket.