Sharmili Mallick

Berhampur: A two-member team of the Odisha Crime Branch (CB) reached Berhampur on Sunday night to investigate the alleged involvement of Akash Pathak, son of tainted IFS officer Abhay Pathak, in connection with a job scam in Ganjam district.

The Tata Motors Limited (TML) had in May lodged a complaint against Akash with the Crime Branch accusing him of committing cheating, forgery and impersonating as the Managing Director (I/C) for the passenger vehicle division of the company and defrauding unemployed youths with job promises in TML.

For the Investigation into the allegations, the two-member team of the Crime Branch has gone to Berhampur with a list of around 68 people who were allegedly duped by Akash. The investigators are scheduled to meet the duped job seekers and record their statement in connection with the case. Most of the victims from the list belong to Gopalpur area, said sources.

Notably, former Education Minister Pradeep Panigrahi represents the Assembly constituency. He was sacked from BJD on Sunday over 'anti-people' activities. Panigrahi's daughter is set to marry Akash on December 11.

Though the identity of the victims on the CB list is yet to be known, they include the relatives of the people who had been displaced during the construction of Tata Steel plant in Luhajhar of Ganjam district during the 1990s and later rehabilitated at Tata colony. Their statement will also be recorded, added sources.

The Crime Branch will also investigate the involvement of other persons in the alleged job fraud, sources added.

Earlier on Sunday, father-son duo Abhay and Akash Pathak were remanded to judicial custody by a Special (Vigilance) court in Bhubaneswar till December 9.

They were arrested by the Vigilance on November 27 on charges of accumulating massive “ill-gotten” wealth. During a country-wide search at premises belonging to the IFS officer, the vigilance stumbled upon many incriminating papers and documents pertaining to Benami properties and bank deposits worth over Rs 9.35 crore, which was about 435 per cent more than his known sources of his income.