Smriti Irani-Fabindia case: Inconsistencies and faux pas cast a pall on investigation

  • IANS, Panaji
  • Updated: Apr 05, 2015 18:12 IST

A series of inconsistencies and a couple of glaring police faux pas in the early investigation stage have surfaced in the Goa Fabindia case, which has triggered ripples within the BJP.

While the Congress has accused the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) Goa leaders of invading the sanitised crime scene on Friday, soon after Union minster Smriti Irani complained of an allegedly intrusive CCTV camera near the trial room at the Fabindia store in Candolim village, the police and chief minister Laxmikant Parsekar appear to hold divergent views on the culpability of Fabindia employees.

Local cable news crew captured BJP legislators Michael Lobo (Calangute), Pramod Sawant (Sanquelim) and Sadanand Tanawde, a BJP leader who is also officer on special duty attached to the chief minister's office, walking in and out of the crime scene -- the Fabindia store -- which had been 'sanitised' by the police.

"The BJP leaders may have arrived there because Smriti Irani is their leader. But they should not have been there," Congress spokesperson Durgadas Kamat told IANS.

"We hope there has been no interference with the evidence. The police should be allowed to do their duty without such political interference," Kamat added.

The second potential police lapse involved allowing a civilian, in this case BJP legislator Michael Lobo, to scrutinise the seized CCTV video footage which goes back to several months.

Lobo, who is also the North District BJP president, in a series of interviews to the media has said that there were several clips of women changing clothes.

"I, along with the police are scanning the store's hard disk right now. The camera is in a very mischievous place and there is footage of women changing clothes for the past three to four months," Lobo told IANS on Friday, raising doubts over whether the police had not erred in allowing a politician to browse through the sensitive footage.

Asked if the police had not erred in the above instance, inspector general of police Sunil Garg gave them a clean chit.

"It depends on what kind of evidence is there. It is for the police to decide. For example, in case of a blood stain or if there is a possibility for lifting fingerprints, the police do not allow (civilians on the crime scene)," Garg told IANS.

Meanwhile, despite the quick arrest of four staffers at the Fabindia store on Saturday, there appeared to be a major contradiction vis a vis their culpability.

While crime branch officials have booked the four under tough sections of the IPC and claim there are convinced that the accused had tampered and tweaked the CCTV camera to discreetly capture videos of women changing clothes in the trial room, Parsekar's opinion is otherwise.

"Before Smritiji, there are images of women of who used the room, but not whole (images). Seems like it was not intentional, probably unintentional," Parsekar, who also holds the home portfolio, told the media on the sidelines of the BJP national executive meeting in Bengaluru.

The quantum of media attention garnered by the snoopgate controversy in comparison to the BJP meeting also appears to have rankled a section of the party leadership.

In a tweet on Saturday, BJP's national spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi said: "Do I smell a rat to obfuscate the BJP national executive meeting? Attempts being made not to cover NE meeting instead cover some other inane issues."

While Lekhi did not name Irani, the traction generation by the tweet forced Lekhi to follow up with another missive.

"Response to my previous tweet shows the intent while one story is relevant as news other as a discussion material, ?ing nt Smriti Ji but media4emphasis," she said.

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