Vikash Sharma

Bhubaneswar: Already neck deep in trouble over the alleged ‘Tata Motors’ job scam, arrested Gopalpur MLA Pradeep Panigrahi sought to absolve himself of the charges against him while he was taken for production before the SDJM Court in Bhubaneswar on Thursday.

“Wait and watch’ was Panigrahi’s impromptu retort when journalists sought a sound bite from the beleaguered (suspended) BJD legislator before his court appearance.

His brief statement has nevertheless been interpreted as an apparent clarification of his innocence. The police have charged Panigrahi with cheating and forgery for allegedly collecting money from job seekers on behalf of his to be son-in-law Akash Pathak.

The Crime Branch on Thursday produced Panigrahi before the SDJM court following competition of his two-day police remand.

Meanwhile, a special investigating team (SIT) of the Crime Branch continues its interrogation of Panigrahi’s close aide Sarbeswar Rao.

Rao’s name had earlier surfaced during the interrogation of Akash Pathak’s personal secretary David Peter. The investigating agency has turned the heat on Rao to elicit more information about the sensational recruitment scam allegedly committed by Akash Pathak.

The Crime Branch is also probing the monetary transactions made between Rao and Panigrahi.
It is pertinent to mention here that Akash Pathak was arrested last month for his allegedly duping scores of youths by promising them jobs at Tata Motors limited. Akash had allegedly committed the fraud by posing himself as the Managing Director (I/C) of the passenger division of the company, Pune.

The Crime Branch subsequently had arrested Gopalpur MLA Panigrahi on December 3 on the charges of cheating, forgery and collecting money from job seekers on behalf of Akash Pathak.

“So far, six persons who were duped by Akash Pathak have come forward and lodged formal complaints with the crime branch. Out of them, two had directly transferred money to the accounts of arrested Gopalpur MLA Pradeep Panigrahi,” ADG Crime Branch, Soumendra Priyadarshi told reporters on December 12.

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