PATNA: An arrest warrant was issued on Wednesday by a Bihar court against the state's absconding former social welfare minister and ruling JD(U) legislator Manju Verma in a case related to possession of illegal ammunition, which is an offshoot of the Muzaffarpur shelter home sexual abuses case.
The court of the additional chief judicial magistrate (ACJM) at Manjhaul in Begusarai district issued the warrant on a petition moved by the district police. Hours earlier, the state government had told the Supreme Court that Verma, who was forced to resign in August in the wake of the Muzaffarpur scandal, could not be traced by police.
The top court had pulled up the state police over its failure to arrest her. Verma's anticipatory bail was rejected by Patna High Court on October 9. Her husband, former JD(U) MLC Chandrashekhar Verma, who is also a co-accused in the ammunition recovery case, had surrendered before the Manjhaul court two days ago after evading arrest for over a month.
Begusarai police had conducted several raids to arrest him after obtaining a warrant against him on September 21, a day after the Supreme Court asked Bihar police to look into the recovery of live cartridges "with some seriousness".
While a few attendants were seen at Manju Verma's residence in Patna till Tuesday, the premises were found totally deserted on Wednesday. There was also no trace of her at her and her husband's ancestral villages in Begusarai, said police sources.Fifty live cartridges were recovered at the Vermas' house at Cheria Bariyarpur village in Begusarai district by CBI during a raid on August 17 in connection with the Muzaffarpur shelter home sexual abuses case.
The couple was booked under the Arms Act. The cartridges of different bores were found to be illegal. Nineteen of them belonged to prohibited guns such as self-loading rifles (SLR), which civilians are not allowed to own. The main Opposition RJD accused the Nitish Kumar-led NDA government of shielding Manju Verma, who belongs to the OBC Koeri caste, from arrest.
"The Verma couple still enjoys the government's protection. If she remains untraceable, our party workers will find her out and facilitate her arrest," said RJD leader and former minister Vijay Prakash. RJD MLA Bhai Birendra claimed she has taken shelter in the CM's residence itself."CBI should quiz CM Nitish Kumar in the shelter home scandal because he had extremely good relations with the main accused Brajesh Thakur," said RJD national vice-president Shivanand Tiwari.