Thursday 18 Apr 2024

Two officers on poll duty suspended; booked for extortion, impersonation

Accused of seizing Rs 16 lakh from two Delhi-based businessmen at Dabolim without following EC procedures; Complainant says they posed as I-T sleuths

THE GOAN NETWORK | APRIL 04, 2024, 01:28 AM IST

PANAJI/VASCO
Two officers on poll duty were on Wednesday suspended by the South Goa Collector and later booked by police on charges of seizing cash of Rs 16 lakh from two Delhi-based real estate businessmen at Dabolim on the night of March 31, but failing to follow procedures prescribed by the Election Commission.

The two accused – Anirudha Pawar, Municipal Engineer at Mormugao Municipal Council who was posted as flying squad in-charge at Dabolim constituency and Nitish Naik, LDC linked to Vasco Electricity Department office who was posted in the IT Cell Office of Collectorate and RO South Goa – were booked by police under Sections 419 and 384 of IPC on Wednesday night.

The two accused were suspended by South Goa Collector Aswin Chandru, IAS, who is also the Returning Officer for the South Goa Lok Sabha seat, for failing to discharge their election duty as per the guidelines laid down by the Election Commission of India and having acted in a manner showing gross negligence and dereliction towards their duties.

The District Collector also directed a detailed report to be submitted within 48 hours.

INCIDENT

The action followed a preliminary enquiry which found that Rs 16 lakh were allegedly seized by the two accused from two Delhi-based real estate businessmen, Ashok Chaudhary and Pawankumar Sharma, at Vales Junction, Dabolim on Sunday evening.

The Choudhary-Verma duo understood that Naik was from the Income-Tax department and sought to do a follow-up inquiry about their seizure there.

“The complainant claims that an amount of Rs 16 lakh was taken from them. Nitesh Naik had allegedly posed as an Income Tax officer to seize the money from the two businessmen and he later called Pawar, who was posted in the Flying Squad. However, the seized cash was not reported or submitted by both the officials,” said a source.

INQUIRY

The beans were spilled when the I-T department officially contacted the SP South seeking the status of the cash seizure.

This prompted SP South Sunita Sawant to inform Chandru, who is also the Returning Officer of South Goa, about the entire incident.

Subsequently, an enquiry was conducted by top officials of the South Goa Collectorate in the Collector’s chamber on Tuesday in which the two suspended officials were grilled.

The South Goa district collector then instructed the Dabolim Airport Police and the Vasco Police to immediately inquire into the matter.

INVESTIGATION

The two accused, Pawar and Naik were summoned to Vasco police station for interrogation on Wednesday.

Sources said Mormugao DySP Santosh Desai, Vasco PI Kapil Nayak and Verna PI Melson Colaco were part of the interrogation team.

Since the alleged seizure took place at Vales Junction, which falls in the Verna Police jurisdiction, Verna PI Melson Colaco was also a part of the interrogation.

Senior sources said an offence under Sections 419 (cheating by personation) and 384 (extortion) of IPC was registered against both suspended officials on Wednesday night.

“We have registered an offence. The recovery has not been done yet but our efforts are on to get the exact details of the incident. Both the Delhi-based businessmen are related to real estate business and had carried the money for some work in Goa,” said the source.



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