Nearly two weeks after three weapons went missing from the possession of Jharkhand Minister Jai Prakash Bhai Patel’s security guards, police officials are probing the Minister’s possible role in the theft.

Following the interrogation of Mr. Patel’s bodyguards, senior police officials are inquiring whether the arms were misplaced on the instructions of the Minister himself and meant to be passed on to Maoist Rebels in Hazaribagh district. Mr. Patel, a first time-JMM MLA from Mandu and son of former MP Teklal Mahto, holds the portfolios of Water and Sanitation and Exercise and Prohibition.The police, however, admit that accused constable Navneet Kumar Tiwari, who made mention of the Minister’s alleged role, has changed his statement many times and there is no concrete evidence against Mr. Patel. “The constable has accused the minister [but] is unable to substantiate his allegations or explain gaps in his claim. He will be sent to Gujarat on December 15 to undergo a lie-detector test and the facts should be clear in a few days,” said Hazaribagh Superintendent of Police Manoj Kaushik.

In his confession, Mr. Tiwari claimed that the Minister had instructed him to misplace the weapons so they could be passed on to Maoist leaders in Vishnugarh in return for political support.

Three weapons, including two AK-47s and a 9-mm pistol, went missing on November 23 from Amrit Nagar in Hazaribagh. The two AK-47s were later recovered from Hazaribagh on November 30.

While all three of the Minister’s bodyguards were initially suspended and arrested, two were released three days later.