Rajasthan minister named in FIR, opposition wants him out

September 24th, 2011 - 8:41 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party Jodhpur, Sep 24 (IANS) Acting on a court’s order, Rajasthan Police Saturday included state Water Resources Minister Mahipal Maderna as an accused in the disappearance of a nurse who allegedly featured in a compromising position with him on a CD.

“We received the orders of the ACJM (additional chief judicial magistrate) court Saturday and as per the directions have included the minister as an accused under sections 376 (rape), 302 (murder) and 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code,” a senior police officer, who did not want to be named, told IANS.

Police said that Maderana will be questioned if it is found helpful in the investigation of the disappearance of auxiliary nurse and midwife Bhanwari Devi late last month.

With his name in the FIR as an accused, the pressure is mounting on the minister to step down on moral grounds.

“Maderna was earlier claiming innocence and refused to step down on the ground that he was not even named in the FIR. Now allegations of rape and murder have been officially leveled against him. What excuse does he have now?” Bharatiya Janata Party state unit chief Arun Chaturvedi said.

Amarchand, husband of Bhanwari Devi, had approached the civil court in Jodhpur’s Bilada town Tuesday, accusing the minister of raping and murdering his wife.

Amarchand had alleged that when he approached the police after his wife’s disappearance, changes were made in his complaint. “They left out Maderna’s name and first lodged just a missing person complaint,” he said.

On Thursday, the Rajasthan High Court lambasted the investigating officer in the case and expressed dissatisfaction over the pace of investigations conducted by the police.

The court asked the inspector general of police, Jodhpur range, to appear before it in person Monday and submit an explanation for the “disappointing pace” of the investigation.

Amarchand, who has threatened self-immolation, said he had to approach the court as police failed to find Bhanwari Devi, almost a month after she was reported missing.

Bhanwari Devi’s son Sahil also alleged Thursday that the minister was involved in his mother’s kidnapping.

“There is threat to our lives also,” Sahil told IANS while staging a sit-in outside the Jodhpur district collector’s office along with activists of some NGOs.

Police have so far arrested a government contractor from Jodhpur’s Bilada area. They had also detained three youths from Sikar district, but let them off citing lack of evidence against them.

During interrogation, the name of Shahbuddin, a resident of Pipad area here and a mechanic by profession, also came up. He is suspected to be the key link who can lead the police to the woman, but he has not yet been traced, an officer said.

The Rajasthan government has also ordered a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the case.

Bhanwari Devi has remained absent from duty since Aug 25. A missing person complaint was lodged by her husband the next day. The complaint was then turned into a kidnapping case.

Maderna, the son of prominent Jat community leader Parasram Maderna, represents Osian constituency of Jodhpur in the state assembly.

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