Believe it or not. And this is no Robert Le Roy Ripley story. Providence has come to the rescue of a district forest officer, Arvind Kumar caught red-handed by the State Vigilance Department sleuths in 2001, while accepting a bribe of Rs 50,000 in Patna.
The evidence, signed and marked by the investigating officers, has gone missing from the nearly impregnable Vigilance locker and from under the nose of ‘safe-keepers’.
Top officials believe, now that the deed is done and nobody knows whodunnit, the DFO could just walk free. The DFO was chargesheeted on September 22, 2002. However, they recall that Malkhana in-charge, Jainath Singh, an SI, was found lying unconscious in a hotel under Kotwali police station in July 2006 and was rushed to the PMCH where he died. Recently, a magistrate, SK Sharma, was given the charge of the maalkhana.
The fact that the evidence secured in the above case No. 7/2001 was ‘missing’ came to light when the magistrate matched the lists which he was taking charge of. Evidence in three other trap cases involving bigger amounts of money were also found missing.
None of the officials wanted to go on record in such an embarrassing situation but volunteered to add that an FIR had been lodged in this connection with the Vigilance police station. Deceased Jainath Singh, of all the persons, has been named as a suspect. "We are keeping our fingers crossed. We believe that the DFO, who is on bail, could have himself managed to take away the evidence since the Centre’s clearance for his prosecution came late."
ADG, Vigilance, Neelmani confirmed the lodging of the FIR but refused to give details. The embarrassment to the Vigilance was palpable since it is only now that the department has actually started taking action against the corrupt. Did it overlook some in its own ranks? That was the question it was not in a position to answer.