The Criminal Investigation Department on Wednesday took over the inquiry into an alleged sex racket that has rocked Akola, a Vidarbha town some 600 km east of the city.
The racket surfaced when an 18-year-old woman named a string of government officials and businessmen, including Akola district police chief Deepak Pandey, and said she had been forced to offer sexual favours to them.
Later the woman withdrew allegations against Pandey, an Indian Police Service officer who has been through other controversies in the past. Later still, she reportedly said she had indeed been taken to Pandey by racket kingpin Nitu Takwat but had asked to be excused as she was unwell, and another woman had been arranged.
Police sources, who requested anonymity for protocol reasons, said the Home Department had asked Pandey to proceed on leave to ensure his presence did not hamper the inquiry.
“The orders will reach Pandey anytime,” said a senior Mantralaya officer, also speaking on condition of anonymity for protocol reasons.
Pandey denied all charges. “The victim saw me on Sunday for the first time. She couldn’t tell if I was the same person who visited Takwat,” he said over the telephone from Akola. “Now it was up to investigators to identify the people Takwat had introduced to the girl as Akola superintendent of police.”
Pandey said he knew about the racket a month ago and had also ordered an inquiry. “But those involved falsely implicated me to hamper the inquiry,” he said. “I will quit the Indian Police Service if found guilty.”