Bhanwari case: CBI grills former Raj minister

Jodhpur: The CBI today questioned sacked Rajasthan Minister Mahipal Maderna here in connection with the disappearance of nurse Bhanwari Devi. Maderna, who was accompanied by a couple of his supporters, arrived at the CBI office at about 11.15 AM.

The questioning of the former Water Resources Minister comes a day ahead of the Rajasthan High Court`s hearing on a habeas corpus petition filed by Amarchand, husband of 33-year-old Bhanwari Devi.

The high court has asked the CBI to submit on November 11 the progress report of its probe in the case. The court, while hearing the petition filed by Amarchand, had slammed the government for its "escapism" in dealing with the case.

Bhanwari, who went missing on September 1, was posted as auxiliary nurse midwife at a sub-centre in Jaliwada village, around 120 km from Jodhpur district. Her husband Amarchand has alleged she was abducted at the behest of Maderna, who was sacked after his name along with that of his associates cropped up in the probe. They have denied the charge.

The CBI on November 7 had questioned the kin of a Rajasthan Congress MLA and a suspended policeman in connection with the disappearance of Bhanwari Devi. The agency had interrogated Indira Bishnoi, sister of Malkhan Singh Bishnoi, MLA from Luni.

A few audio clips of purported conversation of Bhanwari Devi with Sohanlal, one of the accused, and Indira Devi, had come to light, agency sources said. Indira had alleged that Bhanwari Devi wanted a "settlement of the deal" with Maderna and she had approached even the Pali MP Badri Ram Jakhar.

The CBI had recently seized a camcorder and a computer which may contain vital clues about the disappearance of Bhanwari Devi. The agency stumbled upon the camcorder and the computer during one of its searches in the case only to realise that data has been erased from them, the sources said.

Officials suspect that the camera and computer might have been used to film and store some controversial footage which may contain evidence relating to the disappearance of Bhanwari Devi. Earlier this month, the CBI had announced a reward of Rs 5 lakhs for information about whereabouts of Bhanwari Devi.