Goa SIT questions miner about bribe-accused Congressmen

Panaji : A mine lease operator who last week accused a former Congress chief minister, his son and an ex-health minister of accepting crores of rupees from him for lobbying and sanctioning permissions for his lease, Wednesday deposed before a Goa Police Special Investigation Team.

Bhalchandra Naik was issued summons late Tuesday by Deputy Inspector General K.K. Vyas, who heads the state police’s SIT which is probing the Rs.35,000-crore illegal mining scam.

Support TwoCircles

“I received the summons, so I have come to report here (Crime Branch office near Panaji). I have said the same thing which I said during my press conference last week. I stand by my charges,” Naik said.

June 28, Naik stunned journalists when during a press conference at the Congress state headquarters he claimed he paid Rs.6 crore to then health minister Vishwajit Rane and some more money to then chief minister Pratapsingh Rane some years back to lobby with the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government to clear a mining lease for operation.

Current state Congress president John Fernandes was present when the accusations were levelled.

“I have myself paid Rs.6 crore to Vishwajeet Rane to get the mining lease permissions cleared by the central government,” Naik said.

The Ranes rubbished the allegations.

“I do not know who he is. There is absolutely no truth in these allegations. These charges are baseless. I am filing a defamation case against him,” said Vishwajeet.

Senior Rane told IANS he barely knew Naik. “I will not react to just about anything which is said by a mad person,” Rane said.

Once Naik’s revelations hit the public domain last week, Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar promised to probe the allegations provided the mining lease operator was willing to give a statement to the SIT, appointed to probe the scam.