Leader of opposition in the state assembly Satyadev Katare on Thursday charged that Special Task Force (STF) probe into Professional Examination Board (PEB) scam is a farce and reiterated his party's demand for a CBI probe into the scam.
Basing his argument over the statement of two persons arrested by the police on Wednesday, he said they not only claimed in the court that they were working for the STF but confidential documents relating to PEB scam probe, including list of call details, was also seized from them.
Katare asked how the STF hired private people to work for it when the PEB scam was being carried out under high court monitoring.
Two persons were arrested by the police on Wednesday with a bunch of documents and produced in the court. In the court, they reportedly told the judge that they worked for the STF. An STF official, who deposed in the court on behalf of the agency, admitted that one of the persons caught was their Facebook friend but said he didn't know whether they were working for the STF. One of them was remanded to police custody and the other one to judicial custody.
Addressing a press conference at Pradesh Congress Committee headquarters a day later, Katare said there could be two underlying meanings of the STF enlisting the help of private people in the PEB scam — either the STF officials are blackmailing people who have found mention in the call detail list or it was part of a ploy to shield the high and mighty involved in the scam.
He said in either case, the probe into the PEB scam should be withdrawn from the STF and handed over to CBI. Katare said if the STF was short in terms of manpower or experts to help it unravel the multi-layered scam, it is all the more reason that the case is handed over to the CBI.
Katare suggested that whatever arrests the STF has made into the PEB scam so far were under pressure and more as a face saving act for the state government rather than any genuine effort to crack the case.
Katare also raised a question mark over the legality of bail granted to Dr Ajay Shankar Mehta, who was released on bail after alleged hawala operator Purushottam Totlani, who had furnished bond for Dr Mehta's bail, was himself absconding to evade arrest by the CBI. He said Totlani's relationship with Dr Mehta and another key accused in PEB scam Nitin Mahindra should be investigated as he has furnished bail bond for both of them. He expressed the apprehension that booty of PEB scam was being routed through hawala using Totlani.
He further asked the chief minister to clarify whether or not he has any ties with Totlani and if he had visited South Africa ahead of chief minister's recent visit to that nation. "If he (Totlani) had, then was it in connection with investment in diamond mining in South Africa?" quizzed Katare.
When asked why the CM should reply to his queries, Katare said when so many scams have taken place under his regime, Chouhan can't shrug off the responsibility and avoid pertinent queries relating to scams.
Public relations minister Rajendra Shukla dubbed Katare's statement regarding CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan's South Africa visit as a statement given under utter depression and dismay. He said the remarks against the CM's South Africa visit undertaken in connection with upcoming Global Investors Summit were also against the state's interests.
He said the Congress was indulging in baseless statements. The CM would file a defamation suit against "these highly objectionable and false allegations," he said further.