PANAJI: The Goa protocol department has started an internal probe into how an alleged fraudster posing as the Uttar Pradesh Cooperatives Minister was hosted by the state government for 10 days, during which he was allotted housing, police security cover and even rubbed shoulders with ministers and senior BJP officials during the period.
While the Goa Crime Branch, which has now arrested the conman identified as Sunil Singh claims that he was in Goa to enjoy a "free holiday", Chief Minister Pramod Sawant insists that he was in Goa to create a network for a "trading business" by posing as a minister.
"It was me who directed the police to arrest him. He had created a set of forged documents on a (Uttar Pradesh) government letterhead. He was here to do some trading business. He was meeting people in Goa for that," Sawant told reporters here on Thursday.
Officials of the Crime Branch, who have interrogated him, as well as four members of his 'entourage' after their arrest earlier this week, said that Singh came to Goa for a cheap Goa vacation. "His team had contacted the Goa government's protocol department with forged documents which claimed that he was a minister in the Uttar Pradesh government and was therefore allotted personal security officers, a vehicle and lodging as per protocol norms," a Crime Branch official told IANS.
"He was looking for a cheap vacation in Goa, with the help of forgery of documents in which he posed as a minister," the official also said. Singh also met Goa's Cooperatives Minister Govind Gaude and former Cooperatives Minister and BJP leader Prakash Velip, during his 10-day stay in Goa which began in the last week of December.
"He met me as a Cooperatives Minister through protocol (department) channels. But I found something amiss, after I spent 10 to 15 minutes with him. Later, I searched the internet for his details but could not find anything," Gaude told reporters.
Singh also attended a state government function in South Goa district, where he met Velip. "There is no reason why I should have questioned his credentials because he came to me through the protocol department," Velip said.
Sawant has now ordered an enquiry to know how the protocol department could fall prey to such a con. "I have ordered an enquiry. All documents are being collected," Sawant said.