Pajero issue: BJP demands lie detection test of AT Group chief

Bhubaneswar: Taking note of the contradictory statements of Pradip Sethi, managing director of chit fund company Artha Tatwa (AT) Group, the BJP on Tuesday demanded his lie detection test.

Without naming Dasburma, Sethi had told the media on Monday that the attempt to implicate the minister in the case of the Pajero SUV was the ‘biggest joke of the year’. This was at variance from the statement he had given in March admitting that some leaders had taken vehicles from him during the last elections but never returned them while making it clear that they were not ‘gifts’.

In a press briefing here, BJD spokesperson Sajjan Sharma said in view of the contradictory statement given by Pradip Sethi on gifting a Pajero SUV to Das Burma to the media on Monday, a thorough investigation must be conducted to find out the persons who had personally met Sethi during the period between his earlier statement and the statement he gave on Monday.

“A special investigation has to be conducted to find out the persons who had met Sethi in the jail and in the court. The investigation is necessary since the government machinery and the criminals have been repeatedly betraying the people,” he noted.

Justifying his contention, he said Sethi, who had recently told the media that he had presented the Pajero SUV to Das Burma as a gift, has now told the media that he never gifted the vehicle to the minister. “From this, it is apparent that Sethi is being pressurised to change his statement,” he pointed out.

“In his earlier statement, Sethi had mentioned the name of Manoj Behera, who is his brother-in-law and is presently posted as the IIC of Baliapanda Police Station as per the wishes of Dasburma. “Is he not this the same Manoj Behera who forced Sethi to change his statement? BJP wants a thorough investigation into this matter and demands a lie detection test on Sethi. Let the government give a clarification to the people as to why and under what circumstances Sethi has given a contradictory statement to the media when he has already informed the court in an affidavit that he has gifted the vehicle to Dasburma,” Sharma said.

From the recent statement of Sethi, it is quite clear that there is a nexus between the government and the criminals who are looting the people of the state, the BJP leader said.

“The people of Odisha have realised that the ruling government is trying to protect the criminals and forcing them to change their statement. There is no doubt that the government, in a bid to save itself, is using Sethi as an instrument,” he added.

Sharma said the time has now come for the chief minister to ask Dasburma to quit his post and face the charges brought against him.

In his reaction, BJD spokesperson Amar Prasad Satpathy said the investigating officers (IOs) currently probing into the chit fund case belong to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and are working under the Central government.

“No officials of the state government are probing the case. The state government has provided all logistics support to the Central investigating agency to ensure free and fair probe into the chit fund scam case to make sure there is no impediment in the investigation,” Satpathy said.

Replying to a question on the documents relating to the purchase of Pajero SUV submitted by Dasburma to the CBI, he said there is no scope to hide anything as the CBI will thoroughly examine the documents. “Apart from this, the media is also keeping a close watch on this issue,” he added.

He further said the state government has made its stand on chit fund case very clear.

“The government will take action against anyone involved in the case and will do the needful to refund the money of the small depositors who had invested their money in the Ponzi companies,” Satpathy said.

Asked about the involvement of Sanjay Das Burma with the AT Group chit fund company, he said the CBI is presently investigating the case. “Why should we say anything on this now since the investigation is underway? he asked.

Commenting on the allegations of the Congress on this issue, the BJD leader said the party has little choice but to take to the streets.