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Goa leader of opposition, son booked for graft


Panaji, July 3 :

In a late development, Goa’s Leader of Opposition Pratapsing Rane and his legislator son Vishwajeet were Thursday booked by police for allegedly accepting crores of rupees to facilitate permissions for an iron ore mining lease.

The FIR was filed by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) which is probing a Rs.35,000 crore illegal mining scam in which top politicians, bureaucrats and mining magnates are involved.

Pratap Singh Rane
Pratap Singh Rane

Police sources said that the FIR was filed based on the charges made by a mining lease operator Bhalchandra Naik, who alleged that Rane, a former chief minister and his son, a former health minister had asked for nearly Rs.10 crore to lobby with the central government and obtain permissions for mining.

Speaking to IANS late Thursday, Vishwajeet called the FIR a part of vendetta politics.

“I am not going to leave it like that. I am going to fight it out. The complaint is a farce,” he said.

On June 28, Naik stunned journalists, when during an otherwise innocuous press conference at the Congress headquarters here, claiming that he had paid Rs. 6 crore to then health minister Vishwajeet Rane and some more money to then chief minister Rane some years back to lobby with the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government to clear a mining lease for operation.

State Congress president John Fernandes was present alongside when the accusations were made.

The allegations were dismissed by the Ranes as the utterings of a “mad man”.

Following the press conference, police Tuesday had issued summons to Naik, asking him to depose before the SIT.

Police sources say his statement was converted into a complaint.

An offence has been registered under the relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Prevention of Corruption Act.