HOME Minister Anil Deshmukh has ordered a probe into an audio tape in which two people can be purportedly heard hatching a plan to “honey-trap” city Mayor Sandeep Joshi and senior BJP corporator Dayashankar Tiwari.
The plan, as the two persons are heard discussing in the over 8-minute audio, pertains to “fixing them” as the two leaders are allegedly behind the problems of Nagpur Municipal Corporation’s Assistant Medical Officer Pravin Gantawar.
Gantawar had come in for attack from the BJP in the NMC general body meeting last month. Joshi had even announced his “suspension” for the alleged malpractice of running a private hospital along with his wife and amassing disproportionate assets (DA). Municipal Commissioner Tukaram Mundhe had reportedly refused to implement the order.
Gantawar, however, said, “I have no connection whatsoever with the audio tape. If anyone is taking my name in the tape, how can I be held responsible? I am not party to the conversation. It’s really unfortunate.”
The audio-tape, meanwhile, found its way to a reporter, who handed it over to the police. Joshi and Tiwari have demanded action against those involved in the “honey-trapping” plan.0
Tiwari had also registered a complaint with the police against Gantawar and one Sahil Sayyad, alleged to be one of the two persons heard on the tape.
Former Chief Minister Devendra Fadanavis also demanded a thorough probe in the matter on Tuesday.
Nagpur Police Commissioner B K Upadhtay has already handed over the probe to the Crime Branch.”We have already started the probe. As exhorted by the minister, we will conduct it more vigorously,” said Upadhyay.
Incidentally, a matter of disproportionate assets has been pending against Gantawar since 2014. A police constable, whose wife had reportedly died during treatment at the private hospital allegedly run by the Gantawars, had moved the Anti-Corruption Bureau, alleging that the NMC doctor had amassed property disproportionate to his known sources of income.
Part of the conversation also refers to investigators not attending court hearings in the DA case.
Superintendent of Police (ACB), Rashmi Nandedkar, said, “The reference in the audio, that the investigating officer wasn’t present in the court, was about the ad interim bail matter. Ad interim bail has nothing to do with the IO. The court grants bail and then seeks our say. DA amounting to 43 per cent of total assets had been established against Gantawar. An offence has been registered about eight days ago. The ACB, however, isn’t concerned about the other conversation in the audio tape about honey-trapping unless any specific complaint is made under the Prevention of Corruption Act.”
Asked why he couldn’t suspend Gantawar, Mundhe told The Indian Express, “The issue of suspension pertains to DA and the private hospital. The High Court has given a stay against any action against Gantawar. Hence, he can’t be suspended. This was brought to the notice of the general body on the same day.”
Meanwhile, the probe in the alleged firing on Mayor Sandip Joshi’s car last year, while he was returning from his wedding anniversary party from a dhaba outside the city, has also been handed over to the Crime Branch. The alleged incident took place after Joshi claimed he had received threats for undertaking an anti-encroachment drive.
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