Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Sep 9:
This is one entry in the visitors’ diary of Ranjit Sinha that has not made it to the national headlines, but is nonetheless as revealing of the kind of company that the CBI chief keeps as the others: Bikash Swain, proprietor of Odia daily ‘Suryaprava’ and a key player in the Odisha chit fund scam, met Sinha on more than one occasion!
During intense grilling on the third day of his 14-day remand on Monday, Swain startled his CBI interrogators when he revealed that he had met their big boss several times in the company of a former director of the agency.
Following the startling revelation by Swain, the CBI team has now begun probing why and in what connection he had met the CBI director, who is currently in the docks over meeting the accused in the 2G and coal scams on numerous occasions.
According to reliable sources in the probe team, Swain had close relationships not just with the CBI director, but also with many senior officials of the central investigating agency.
Swain threatened the investigating team citing his connections in the highest echelons of the CBI. He had even bragged that the person who is going to head the CBI after Sinha is ‘his man’, the sources added.
A senior official of the CBI from Delhi had reportedly called up the investigating team’s head here to intervene on behalf of Swain. During investigations, it has been revealed that Swain has derived several benefits by citing his connections with senior CBI officials.
A former chief of the CBI is still connected with the newspaper owned by Swain. Former CBI chief Ashwini Kumar had come to the inaugural function of Swain’s newspaper.
During Swain’s interrogation, the CBI also come to know that he had unrestricted access to the state police headquarters. He used to frequent district police headquarters and move with top police officials in their vehicles. The CBI has come across such evidence after going through the call records and other details available from Swain’s cell phone. Swain had spoken to several of these officers during interrogations by the CBI prior to his arrest
The central agency has come across evidence that Swain had worked as bridge between politicians and AT Group.
Sources said the investigating team has come across vital information of Swain’s links with several politicians who, in turn, had developed links with the Artha Tatwa (AT) group through him and milked it for their personal aggrandizement.
CBI has also learnt during interrogations that AT Group CMD Pradip Sethy had paid crores of rupees to a minister, who used to boss over Swain’s newspaper, in cash and gifts. Several MLAs and sons of ministers had established links with the AT Group through Swain and had promised Sethy protection from police as well as against government action.