LUCKNOW: Hours after being taken into police custody, businessman Abhishek Gupta -- who accused the Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister, S P Goyal, of seeking bribe of Rs 25 lakh -- retracted his charge on Friday evening.
The swift turn of events prompted many here to believe that coercion by the state police was the reason for change in the stance of Gupta.
In police custody since afternoon, for "interrogation and ascertaining of his charges", the young businessman from Lucknow who claimed to have taken a loan of Rs 1 crore for setting up a petrol pump at Hardoi, said he "was upset and had lost his mental balance after the senior IAS official trashed his file despite completion of all formalities".
In a video that surfaced in social media, where he is seen being prompted by a policeman into parroting the clarification, Gupta is seen saying that he had met Goyal for clearance of his file but the officer put some queries, which despite being sent back from the district administration were not entertained by the Principal Secretary to Yogi Adityanath.
He later says that in a state of depression -- as he was shelling out an interest of Rs 1.10 lakh per month against the loan taken for setting up the petrol pump -- he made these frivolous charges against the top bureaucrat.
Adityanath had earlier in the day asked Chief Secretary Rajeev Kumar to find out the factual position in the case involving senior IAS officer Goyal, an official spokesman said.
Goyal has been accused by the Lucknow businessman of seeking Rs 25 lakh to approve widening of a road to his proposed petrol pump.
The issue was triggered after Governor Ram Naik, taking cognizance, shot off a letter to Chief Minister apprising him of the e-mail complaint the Raj Bhawan had received from the Indiranagar-based businessman, seeking help in getting the matter expedited.
In his letter, Naik said the business had claimed that since he was not yielding to the bribe demanded by the IAS officer, he was sitting on the file and not disposing it of.
The Governor asked Adityanath to look into the matter at his level.
On Friday, the complainant was picked up by the Lucknow police around afternoon for interrogation.
Lucknow SSP Deepak Kumar said the move followed a complaint filed against Gupta by state Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) office in-charge Bharat Dixit alleging that the said businessman was exerting pressure on senior party office-bearers and the Chief Minister's Office to seek favours.
We have registered the case. In the day, we interrogated Abhishek Gupta & he said that he took a loan of Rs.1 crore from a bank to open a petrol pump. He is not mentally strong. In confusion, he took the name of BJP leaders to influence bank authorities: Deepak Kumar, SSP Lucknow pic.twitter.com/dn2KBICMmj— ANI UP (@ANINewsUP) June 8, 2018
"Following the complaint, the Hazratganj police filed a case under sections 419, 420 and 500 of the IPC against Gupta and he has been picked by the police for interrogation under 161 CrPC," the SSP said.
However, later in the evening, Kumar said the businessman had been let off after a written apology. "He has been handed over to his maternal grand father who lives in Lucknow and the probe is underway."
While many here feel that the whistle blower was being arm-twisted by the government agencies and the ruling party to withdraw his complaint against Goel, insiders in the BJP said the fact that a letter had been written by the Governor to Chief Minister with regard to the matter has landed the government in trouble!
Meanwhile, opposition parties in the state tore into the BJP government for allegedly trying to victimise and intimidate the person who had come up with the complaint against the CM's aide.
Ridiculing the state government, former Chief Minister and Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav said it was sad that under the watch of the government, people coming up with complaints were being targeted rather than a serious investigation done in the matter.
He also cited the case of a Unnao rape victim, whose father was "killed in police custody" after he approached them with charges against a sitting ruling party legislator.
Yadav also demanded a CBI probe into the allegations leveled against the top bureaucrat.
The Congress also lashed out at the BJP government over the issue. Spokesman of the Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee (UPCC) Krishna Kant Pandey demanded that Goyal be removed and that a sitting judge of the high court investigate the allegations levelled against the official.
Making similar demands, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) member of Rajya Sabha Sanjay Singh said the issue had thrown up serious doubts over the BJP's to fight corruption.