Investigators are now probing whether any more civilians or defence personnel were involved in the scam. They have also appealed to people to approach them if they have been cheated in the similar fashion.
With the death toll in the floods caused by a breach in the Tiware dam in Ratnagiri’s Chiplun taluk rising to 18, and five people still missing, 62-year-old Gaikwad, his wife, son and grandson were among the lucky ones — they survived.
The Opposition in the Maharashtra Assembly has also demanded that a case be registered against local Shiv Sena MLA Sadanand Chavan, who was closely associated with the firm Khemraj Constructions, which had built the dam in 2004.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has ordered a high-level probe and Water Resources Minister Girish Mahajan, who visited the area Wednesday, announced that strict action will be initiated against officials found responsible.
The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) has unearthed an elaborate nexus between racketeers and government officers, who took lakhs of rupees from these aspirants for providing impostor candidates — who in most cases were government employees — to fraudulently clear the exams.
Punalekar (53) and Bhave (34) were arrested by the agency on May 25. They were produced before the court on Saturday after their first custodial remand ended. The court of Additional Sessions Judge A V Rotte extended their custody till June 4.
In May last year, an FIR was registered at Wanawadi police station. and according to the FIR, the racketeers reportedly took money from 30 candidates, who had appeared for the written test for the exam in March last year, and rigged the system to assign higher marks to them.
As a tribute to Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and his vision of building a Navy at the time, the institution was commissioned as HMIS Shivaji on February 15, 1945, by the then Governor of Mumbai, Sir John Colville.
Police, rescue agencies and government bodies in charge of these water bodies say that it’s also the tourists’ prerogative to exercise restraint and caution. They also highlight the need for creating awareness among people, especially youth.
Those arrested include kingpin Prabodh Rathod, a dismissed government employee from Nanded and impersonators, including two then serving police officers of assistant inspector rank, a CID handwriting expert and a cop who was part of the initial probe.
The two districts make up the southern-most patch of the Konkan region, which has seen a traditional influence of the Sena, attributed largely to the region’s affinity towards Mumbai with scores of people from the region migrating to the financial capital for employment.