BHUBANESWAR: Four Biju Janata Dal (BJD) legislators, who were caught on camera allegedly seeking bribe from a person posing as an industrialist to facilitate industrial projects in their districts, were quizzed by the Vigilance wing in the last 24 hours.
The Anti-Corruption Bureau examined MLAs Seemarani Nayak (Hindol), Susant Behera (Chhendipada) and Bijay Nayak (Karanjia) at the Vigilance headquarters on Wednesday night, a good three weeks after the matter surfaced. A fourth MLA, Anam Nayak of Bhawanipatna, was quizzed on Thursday.
The four were questioned about the sting operation, how they were contacted and details of their conversation with the man in question. “We have gathered the versions of the MLAs on the entire issue. We will have to match it with the complete video which we are still seeking,” Vigilance sources said.
In fact, the Vigilance has been trying to examine the web channel owner Rabi Sharma who reportedly conducted the sting operation named “Operation Blackspot”. However, he has not responded to at least four notices issued by the anti-corruption wing which was asked to inquire into the matter after the footage was run on a local TV channel last month.
While Sharma is yet to appear before the Vigilance despite being contacted over telephone and notices, his wife was examined once. “Sharma had said he would cooperate with the inquiry but is yet to turn up. We have spoken to his wife once and will examine her again,” the sources said.
The investigating agency apparently wanted the original footage of the sting operation to analyse its contents but with Sharma not showing up, it has been searching several places. “We have now laid our hands on a footage which prima facie appears to be the whole conversation but only a forensic examination can ascertain if it is the original,” the sources added.
The Vigilance Wing claims that preliminary investigation reveals that no monetary transaction, so far, has taken place. But the conversation has to be viewed in entirety to ascertain the exact circumstances under which the bribes were demanded, an officer said.
Last month, a private TV channel had run the sting operation which showed the four BJD MLAs seeking bribe from a person posing as an industrialist. Soon after, the BJP filed an FIR against the four who went on to register a case against the sting operator for allegedly blackmailing them. Under growing criticism, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik ordered an investigation by the Vigilance.
The State Vigilance says it is only conducting an inquiry into the matter and no case has been registered in this connection as of now.