A tribal labourer earning R100 per day stood surety for R150,000 for the release of three Chinese technocrats on bail after their arrest in the Balco chimney collapse case in Korba last September.
The Chinese nationals were arrested on the charge of culpable homicide not amounting to murder after the under-construction chimney collapse killed 41 workers.
Indrabhawan Singh (52), a resident of Basibar village in Korba district, is believed to have told his neighbours that he was persuaded by a political leader to stand surety for the three men he had never met before. Besides, he was asked to stand surety for an amount he is unlikely to be able to mobilise if the accused fail to appear before the Korba court when summoned.
The Chinese nationals were granted bail by a judicial magistrate in Korba on the orders of the Supreme Court after their arrest in January.
When Chhattisgarh Home Minister Nanki Ram Kanwar was asked how a poor labourer stood surety for such a large sum and for men he did not even know, Kanwar said, “It is not the government's job to see who stands surety for whom.”
The Korba police refused to comment. And Balco claimed ignorance.
"We have no information on who stood surety," company spokesperson B.K. Shrivastava told HT.
"I suspect a conspiracy," said Congress MLA Mohammed Akbar, who showed HT a copy of Singh’s affidavit and other documents establishing that he stood surety for the three strangers.
"Why was the labourer forced to stand surety and Balco avoided doing so? The Union Home Ministry or External Affairs Ministry should probe the matter," Akbar said.