Friday, August 12, 2005

Babus or Angrez Sahebs

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Job scheme fraud babus live in bungalows
Three key ‘culprits’ absconding; Solapur police clueless, say warrants will be issued soon
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Posted online: Friday, August 12, 2005 at 0238 hours IST

SOLAPUR, AUGUST 11: Bijapur Road and Kotgi Road are two prominent residential localities which are hubs of Solapur’s rich and famous. Manoj Nimbalkar, a clerk in the revenue department and the main accused in the Rs 9.1-crore Employment Guarantee Scheme (EGS) fraud, and Subhash Durape, an agriculture department supervisor and co-accused, stay there.

Nimbalkar, Durape and another accused, Sutvirayya Swami, an agriculture department assistant — all have been suspended — are absconding since July 12, a day after Collector Manisha Varma found incriminating evidence against them. While family members say they have no idea of their whereabouts, Solapur Police too is clueless.

Nimbalkar has a two-storeyed plush bungalow on Bijapur Road. As a clerk, he draws a salary of Rs 5,000-Rs 6,000 a month and his wife says they used to stay in a one-room flat just seven years ago. She quickly adds that she is a primary school teacher — ‘‘and the double income helped us buy this bungalow. We have also taken a loan for it.’’

She insists she has no idea where her husband is but gives us his mobile number which is, of course, switched off.

Durape’s bungalow on Kotgi Road area is fancier. His monthly earning as an agricultural supervisor is around Rs 8,000. The upper storey of the two-storeyed bungalow has been rented out to two local dailies. The ground floor is well-furnished. ‘‘He is not here since the past seven days and he has changed his mobile, so I can’t get in touch with him,’’ his wife says.

Another accused, Swami, who earns less than Rs 5,000 a month, lives at Bhavani Peth in a modest housing society. His father tells us he is in Parbhani.

The indifference of the Solapur Police to these cases — four criminal cases have been lodged against them — has raised many eyebrows. Pune’s Divisional Commissioner, Prabhakar Karandikar, is obviously upset. ‘‘Now that criminal charges have been framed against them, it is for the police to nab them.’’

But Karandikar isn’t surprised. ‘‘I suspected that the police were under instructions to resist a deeper probe, because when we wanted to file the first FIR, the police made such a fuss that it took them an entire night, from 11 p m to 5 a m, to lodge the complaint.’’

Collector Varma, who claims the fraud is just the tip of the iceberg, says there should have been arrests by now.

Solapur Police Commissioner Jagan Nath responds on predictable lines: ‘‘The law does not spare anyone. A special squad has been created and it has conducted raids on the houses of the accused without any positive results. Soon, we will declare them absconders and attach their properties but all this takes time.’’


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