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Alert for flood hero-turned-villain

May 30: The Bihar vigilance bureau today alerted airports across the country and moved court for arrest warrants as it stepped up the heat on former Patna district magistrate Gautam Goswami and two other alleged kingpins of the flood-relief scam.

The move, rare against such a senior IAS officer, came two days after the bureau filed an FIR against Goswami, who was hailed by Time magazine for his work in reaching help to flood victims in Bihar last year, and 27 others.

Six persons have been remanded in judicial custody.

“We have requested officials at international and domestic airports and immigration check-posts throughout the country not to allow Goswami, his assistant Amitav Arun and the owner of a fake firm, Santosh Kumar Jha, to fly (out of the country),” said additional director-general Neelmani.

“We have furnished specific information, including identification documents and passport numbers, of the three accused to the authorities of all domestic and international airports, besides immigration wing officials posted there to help facilitate their arrest and stop them from fleeing the country,” Neelmani told PTI in Patna.

“The step has been taken apprehending that some accused may leave the country on coming to know the registration of the FIR,” he said, adding that the court was also being approached for impounding the passports of Goswami and the others.

Director-general of police Ashish Ranjan Sinha said he had requested his Uttar Pradesh counterpart to order his men to help the vigilance team, now camping in Lucknow, to arrest Goswami, who in February resigned from the IAS to join the Sahara Group.

The Bihar government, however, has not accepted his resignation, which could complicate matters for Goswami.

In Lucknow, a senior Sahara manager said Goswami was on a month’s leave.

“He was here till yesterday. But from today, he is on a month’s leave,” the officer said. But he did not explain how an employee who joined only two months ago could get a month’s leave.

Sources said Goswami, who joined Sahara in March, was not yet attached to any department. However, those who were in touch with Goswami in Sahara said he might be in Delhi consulting his lawyers and that his advocate could file a bail application in Patna High Court and later in the Supreme Court.

In Bihar, sources said a special vigilance court is likely to issue warrants against Goswami and the others accused in the multi-crore-rupee scam tomorrow.

The government yesterday announced cash rewards for anyone who could provide information on the whereabouts of Goswami and Jha, accused of being the main conduit for the defalcation of public money for non-existent relief supplies.

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