A Team of Rajkot City police Detection of Crime Branch has been camping in Delhi and questioning a lawyer there for the last two days in connection with the alleged criminal conspiracy in setting fire to jute bags worth Rs 19 crore at an APMC yard here in March.
“Our team has been questioning one Mahesh Tully who is an advocate as well as a businessman. GUJCOT general manager (operations) Manoj Brahmbhatt had given him Rs 50 lakh to influence insurance claim for the jute bag stock damaged in the fire. If sufficient evidence is found against him, we shall arrest him,” ACP (Crime) Jaydeepsinh Sarvaiya said on Thursday.
A stock of jute bags that were purchased by GUJCOT to stock groundnut during the last year’s procurement had caught fire on March 13 this year. GUJCOT officials had said that 25 lakh jute bags, worth around Rs 19 crore, were stored in the yard. Police have arrested Brahmbhatt, Magan Zalavadiya and Paresh Shankharva for alleged criminal conspiracy of allegedly setting the stock of empty bags on fire to destroy evidence of alleged irregularities in the purchase of the bags.
According to the police, Brahmbhatt had received Rs 31 lakh as kickbacks from three private firms from whom GUJCOT had purchased some of the bags. Zalavadiya, GUJCOT warehouse manager, and his aide Shankharva were also allegedly part of the criminal conspiracy.
Forensic experts have also concluded that the fire in the jute bag stock was not accidental.
“After the insurance company rejected the GUJCOT’s claim saying the fire seemed to be the result of human intervention, Brahmbhatt gave Rs 50 lakh to Tully to influence the insurance company and get the decision reversed. While Tully is prima facie not directly associated with the insurance company, the GUJCOT officer got in touch with him believing that since he was a lawyer, he would be able to exercise some influence,” Sarvaiya added.
“Tully (75) has taken ill and had to be hospitalised. Therefore, he has not been arrested so far,” Inspector Hitesh Gandvi, who is the investigating officer of the case, said.