Panaji, Feb 22 IANS | 9 months ago

A Youth Congress leader who had alleged a multi-crore-rupee scam in the allocation of 47,000 tablet PCs to school students in Goa has now claimed that Crime Branch officials were intimidating him, forcing him to reveal his source.

Sunil Kawthankar, a former president of the state unit of the National Students Union of India (NSUI) had filed a complaint with the Crime Branch earlier this week.

"Police had summoned me for questioning after I filed the complaint Monday. But the crime branch officers seem more interested in questioning me about my source, rather than about the evidence which I had submitted," Kawthankar told IANS Saturday.

In December 2013, on Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar's birthday, the first of the 47,000 tablets were distributed to students as part of a new scheme announced by the Bharatiya Janata Party-led coalition government.

The tablets, pre-loaded with educational software were acquired by the Info-Tech Corporation of Goa (ITCG) for Rs.9,950 odd. But Kawthankar claimed the equipment was purchased from an already blacklisted company and that too at an inflated price.

Kawthankar is not the only person to have made this allegation.

Prashant Kunkolienkar, a computer dealer, addressed a press conference last month alleging a scam worth Rs.30 crore in the purchase of the tablets, because of inflated costs rigged by a cartel of computer dealers allegedly close to the BJP.

BJP legislator Subhash Phaldesai who heads the ITCG, however, said the accusations of a scam were "ridiculous".

"If anyone can provide an undertaking that they could provide a tablet with the same specification for Rs.7,200 as alleged, we are willing to give them the remaining order," Phaldesai said.

Kawthankar also claimed that tenders for the tablets were floated in violation of the Central Vigilance Commission.

He said police were in the process of gunning for him because he named Phaldesai as well as Parrikar in his complaint.

"I was surprised to see the curiosity of the crime branch officials to extract the name of my source of all the information in this scam. The officers should concentrate more on investigation of this serious fraud," he said.

He also claimed a senior officer of the rank of deputy inspector general of police was pressuring the crime branch to scrap the complaint.

A police official attached to the crime branch said a formal preliminary inquiry was in the process of being started.

"The complaint came to us Monday. We will be starting an inquiry soon," he said.

(Posted on 22-02-2014)

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