Reported by Santosh Jagdev
Bhubaneswar, Jun 26:
In a development that is bound to cause a major embarrassment to the BJD government in Odisha, already reeling under the impact of the statewide outrage over its inept handling of the Nabakalebara, it has emerged that the ruling party candidate from Champua Assembly constituency in Keonjhar district Tatwa Prakash Satapathy, better known by his screen name Papu Pom Pom in the entertainment industry, was grilled for two long hours by the Economic Offences Wing of the Crime Branch for his alleged links with Sarala Realcon Private Limited, the real estate company under investigation by the agency, earlier this week.
For reasons that are not yet clear, the intense grilling is said to have taken place on Monday, but came to light only on Thursday. A Crime Branch official confirmed to OST that Papu had indeed been subjected to intense grilling about his financial dealings with Sarala Realcon.
Clearly someone somewhere wanted to keep the whole thing under wraps because of the embarrassment that the revelation is going to cause to the ruling party, the government and – last but not the least – to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik himself. After all, Papu was handpicked by the senior Papu (Naveen) himself for the Champua seat even in the face of stiff opposition from a large section of the party.
Papu Pom Pom was asked about 35 questions by investigating officer DSP Tapan Mohanty. EOW sources said. Some of the questions posed to him, according to the sources, were: How he came in contact with the company’s managing director Gayadhar Jena? What was his role in the Ollywood film ‘Chauka Chhaka’ which Gayadhar produced? What amount of money was invested in the film ‘Chauka Chhakka’? What amount of profit had the comic actor taken from the Gayadhar?
EOW sources added that Papu was in charge of distribution of the film ‘Chauka Chhakka’. The agency had come to know that the actor had taken Rs 1.32 crore from Gayadhar for this.
The state investigating agency had sent a summons to the actor to appear before it a month before.
Acting on the notice, Papu appeared before the agency on Monday to present his statement. In his reply, Papu reportedly said he had only acted in the film, but was not in the charge of distribution of the film. Gayadhar’s wife Pankajini Jena was in charge of the distribution, EOW sources said quoting Papu.
“The film was made from public deposits and we are investigating the money trail of the crores of rupees that the real estate company had embezzled from gullible investors. It was in this connection that we grilled the Ollywood actor,” said an EOW official.
Meanwhile, EOW officials have started verifying the accounts of the popular stand up comedian to know how much money had been transferred to him from Gayadhar’s accounts earlier. The investigating agency is also probing the accounts of Pankajini to get some leads in the case.
Notably, the EOW had arrested Gayadhar in connection with the case on March 16. He was freed from the Jharpada jail on May 19 after a designated court in Cuttack granted conditional bail to him.
Later, Gayadhar’s partner Nibas Jena was arrested by the agency on May 7 during a raid at his residence located in Jharpada area under Laxmisagar police limits. CB officials said Nibas had supported Gayadhar in his business.
On June 19, The EOW had arrested Kailash Chandra Muduli, marketing director of Sarala Realcon Private Ltd, for misappropriating Rs 20 lakh from the company account. Besides, the accused had taken Rs 10 lakh as cash from the company to manage the business of the company.
With the CBI probe into the chit fund having visibly gone into slumber, the Naveen Patnaik government was breathing easy. But the fresh revelation about one of its own is certain to causing a major embarassment.