Bhanu P Lohumi
Tribune News Service
Shimla, August 22
The voice samples of accused Dr Ajay Gupta, former Himachal Pradesh Director of Health Services (DHS), and agent Prithvi Singh have matched with a dialog in an audio clip that has been the premise of an investigation into the alleged PPE package buy rip-off.
In the 43-second clip, Dr Gupta is purportedly heard demanding Rs 5 lakh in bribe for clearing a provide order of 6,500 PPE (private protecting tools) kits value over Rs 1 crore.
Prithvi had despatched the recording to Dr Gupta on May 19, a day earlier than the Director of Health Services (DHS) was arrested by the state Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau (VACB).
Sources stated Prithvi was allegedly prepared to pay Rs three lakh, however Dr Gupta was adamant on Rs 5 lakh. The chance of blackmailing the DHS via the audio clip to clear extra provide orders couldn’t be dominated out, they stated.
The forensic examination of over half a dozen cell phones seized by the VACB revealed that there have been no less than three extra audio recordings, in addition to WhatsApp chats, that indicated dispute over the bribe quantity.
Arrested on May 20, Dr Gupta was launched on bail on May 30. Prithvi was taken into custody on June 6. Both have been booked beneath Sections 7 and eight of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
As the case assumed political hues, Additional Chief Secretary RD Dhiman referred it to the VACB.
The rapid fallout of the controversy was that then Himachal BJP president Dr Rajeev Bindal needed to resign from the publish on May 27. The resignation ostensibly got here to uphold excessive ethical floor within the wake of turmoil created by the audio recording and to facilitate free and truthful probe.
In his one-page resignation despatched to BJP nationwide president JP Nadda, Dr Bindal had stated, “Fingers are being raised on the BJP after the arrest of the former DHS and being the president of the party, I feel that the matter should be investigated properly without any pressure and I am submitting my resignation keeping in view the high moral values.”
The native media was agog with stories of an in depth affiliate of a “senior” BJP chief being questioned within the case.