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Goa minister resigns hours after Congress names him in ‘sex scandal’, CM says resignation accepted for ‘free and fair probe’

🔴 Naik’s resignation may come as a major embarrassment to the BJP government in Goa in the run up to the legislative assembly polls slated for February, 2022. He is a three-time MLA and also served as the power and housing minister in 2012.

Written by MAYURA JANWALKAR | Panaji |
Updated: December 16, 2021 7:21:53 am
Goa minister sex scandal, Milind Naik, sex scandal, Goa Pradesh Congress, Goa Congress, Pramod Sawant, Goa news, BJP government, Goa news, Indian express, current affairsGoa Pradesh Congress president Girish Chodankar addressing a press conference. (Photo: Twitter/@INCGoa)

Hours after Congress leaders in the state named him in a “sex scandal”, Goa urban development and social welfare minister Milind Naik resigned from ministership on Wednesday evening.

Late on Wednesday night, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant said, “He (Naik) has tendered his resignation for a free and fair investigation and I have accepted it. Whatever proof the Congress has given will be investigated.”

He said that Naik will put his side forth and “fight” at a personal level. “The allegations made against him are personal and what he will do about it will be a subject of his personal decision,” said Sawant.

“Whatever needs to be investigated at the government level will be done 100 percent,” Sawant said. He said the ministerial post earlier held by Naik will remain vacant.

Goa Pradesh Congress president Girish Chodankar on Wednesday named Naik as the minister involved in a “sex scandal”. Chodankar alleged that he had misused his office and sexually exploited a woman from Bihar.

On November 30, Chodankar had alleged that a minister in the Sawant-led government was involved in a “sex scandal” and said he would give the BJP government 15 days to act against the minister. At the end of the fortnight, Chodankar had said, if the government did not remove the minister from the Cabinet, he would be forced to name him.

Naik’s resignation may come as a major embarrassment to the BJP government in Goa in the run up to the legislative assembly polls slated for February, 2022. Fifty-eight-year-old Naik is a three-time MLA and also served as the power and housing minister in 2012. He represents the Mormugao assembly constituency in South Goa.

On December 10, a woman had filed a complaint in Bihar accusing Congress leader Sankalp Amonkar and other party workers from South Goa of extortion, sexual harassment and criminal conspiracy.

According to the complaint filed in Bihar, the accused allegedly made a video and audio of her go viral on social media. She also accused them of extortion and sexual harassment and offences under the Information Technology Act. While a zero FIR was lodged on Friday, the case was transferred to the Goa Police on Tuesday.

South Goa Superintendent of Police Abhishek Dhania said, “We received the complaint last evening and the FIR has been registered at Mormugao Police Station. It is a complaint of extortion, stalking, criminal conspiracy and sections of the Information Technology Act.” He said on Wednesday that the investigation in the case would commence now.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, Amonkar and other Congress leaders lodged a complaint against Naik at the women’s police station in Panaji and submitted what they claimed were cell phone records and other evidence of the minister allegedly sexually harassing the woman and forcing her to undergo an abortion.

“We have submitted all the evidence we had against Naik including the woman’s original phone and a copy. The victim has turned hostile and she was forced to file the complaint against us. I am ready to cooperate with the police,” Amonkar told reporters.

Amonkar said that the woman had first approached him in November 2019 and claimed that she was being exploited but was afraid to lodge a complaint. He said that he had assured her all the help but legally, it was necessary that she lodge a complaint. “She showed us the WhatsApp chats, video and audio and when I first saw it I was very angry. She said she was used, exploited, promised employment and threatened,” said Amonkar. He said that she had recorded a statement on her phone and handed over her original mobile with whatsapp chats, videos and audio on her phone to him and asked him to file a complaint on her behalf. He, however, said that five months back she had come back to him and asked him to return her phone because she was scared for herself and her child. He said that the messages were exchanged between the woman and the minister since 2015-16.

At a press conference on Wednesday, Amonkar played an audio clip between a conversation between a man and woman and claimed that it was Naik talking to the woman. He also shared screenshots of the WhatsApp chats that he said the woman had saved on her phone.

Mahila Congress president Beena Naik had said hours before Naik resigned, “The victim was widowed, the minister took advantage of that and had a relationship with her without her consent. Asking the victim to abort a fetus without her consent, is the murder of the baby. It’s a case of rape because it’s without the consent of the lady. If the government does not act against him in the next two days, all of us ladies will march to his house and make sure he is pulled out of his house. He should be removed from his position and made to sit at home.”

Amonkar had contested the Mormugao constituency from the Congress in 2017 assembly polls but lost to Naik by a slim margin of 140 votes.

After Naik’s resignation, Goa BJP president Sadanand Tanavade had said that the decision to resign was Naik’s own.

“He has resigned willingly to enable a free and fair investigation in the case. Anyone can make allegations. Whether they are true or not will be known after the investigation is carried out,” said Tanavade.

On Tuesday, Chodankar had said that he had revealed the concerned minister’s name to the Governor of Goa.

On Wednesday, speaking at the Congress House in Panaji, Chodankar said, “Whether it’s a crime or not is a different issue. But a minister is misusing his position and sexually exploiting a woman. Such a minister is a disgrace to Goa and all Goans. He should immediately be sacked and this government needs to show the people of Goa that ministers like Milind Naik who exploit women will not be spared.”

Chodankar said that the woman hails from Bihar and urged Bihar Chief Minsiter Nitish Kumar to give her the confidence to file a complaint against Naik.

“I urge Bihar CM Nitish Kumar… You talk of empowering women but a minister from Goa has exploited a daughter of Bihar. Will you stand by your daughter or the minister who has exploited her? CM of Bihar, please give her the strength so that she can come forward without any fear,” he said.

Sawant had said earlier that while politically motivated allegations were being made ahead of the Assembly elections, he would not hesitate to take action against anyone if the victim files a complaint.

“If anyone has proof or if anyone has faced any assault, they should file a complaint. If the person who has suffered files a complaint, I will 100 per cent take action. So far nobody has filed a complaint. If a woman files a complaint, we will carry out a thorough inquiry. Being the home minister, I am firm on this and I’ll sack anyone,” Sawant had said.

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