Expelled Biju Janata Dal MLA Pradeep Panigrahy is suspected to have connived with a man arrested in connection with a job scam.(HT PHOTO)
Expelled Biju Janata Dal MLA Pradeep Panigrahy is suspected to have connived with a man arrested in connection with a job scam.(HT PHOTO)

Expelled BJD MLA in Odisha faces heat as CID starts probe into job scam

A CID official said Pradeep Panigrahy could be arrested if there are complaints about his complicity in the scam in which many people were defrauded with promise of jobs in Tata Motors.
By Debabrata Mohanty | Hindustan Times, hubaneswar
PUBLISHED ON NOV 30, 2020 09:49 PM IST

Expelled Biju Janata Dal MLA Pradeep Panigrahy may face trouble as the crime investigation department (CID) of Odisha police on Monday started their investigation into the alleged involvement of Akash Pathak, son of tainted IFS officer Abhay Pathak in a job scam in Ganjam district, officials said.

Abhay Pathak and his son Akash were arrested on November 27 and have been remanded in judicial custody till December 9

Panigrahy, 57, was expelled from the primary membership of the regional party on Sunday on charges of indulging in anti-people activities. The party, however, did not specify the charges which led to the summary expulsion of the three-time MLA who was once the blue eyed-boy of chief minister Naveen Patnaik. Soon after the expulsion, the police put barricades outside Panigrahy’s house.

On Monday, S Dharmaraj Reddy of the Congress who contested against Panigrahy from Gopalpur in 2019 and lost, lodged an FIR with local police seeking action against Panigrahy for defrauding 68 youths of the area promising them jobs through fake appointment letters.

“Panigrahy through Akash Pathak (who was due to marry Panigrahy’s daughter next month) collected crores of rupees from the unemployed youths promising them jobs but left them high and dry. He also collected money from local sand exporters. The MLA has been terrorising the youths when they asked about the jobs,” the Congress leader alleged in his FIR.

Officials said if some of the youths of Gopalpur who were allegedly conned by Akash Pathak with the promise of jobs in Tata Motors lodge complaints with CID and local police it may end up embroiling the former BJD leader.

“If some of the defrauded youths lodge a complaint that Panigrahy acted hand in glove with Pathak, he may be arrested. It seems quite improbable that Akash Pathak would have defrauded so many people of Gopalpur area without the complicity of a local politician. A detailed investigation would surely bring out the truth,” said a CID official.

Assembly Speaker Suryo Patro said if Panigrahy has to be arrested in a case involving cognisable offence, the police need not seek his permission. “The police just need to inform the Speaker after the arrest,” he said.

The state government is also looking at possible corruption angle of Panigrahy while he was minister of state for rural development and minister of state higher education and science and technology between 2014 and 2017. Sources said the vigilance department would soon scan the files of the rural development department as well as the higher education department.

Panigrahy claimed he was paying the price for writing several letters to chief minister Patnaik on Covid-19 mismanagement as well as other issues related to the pandemic.

“The state government was initially not in favour of bringing back the migrant workers following the outbreak of Covid-19. It seems that I am now paying up the price for writing to the Chief Minister. I also raised the issues of mismanagement in Covid centres as well as the treatment procedures of Covid patients,” said Panigrahy.

Post-expulsion, the three-time BJD MLA is now an unattached MLA. If he defects to some other party he would lose his MLA seat.

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