Lucknow, Feb. 16: An accounting clerk in the scam-tainted Uttar Pradesh health department was found dead last night in a rural hospital eight days after he was reported missing.
Police dubbed the death of Mahendra Sharma, 52, whose body was found in the health centre in Lakhimpur Kheri where he was posted, prima facie a case of suicide.
CBI sleuths probing the Rs 3000-crore scam said Sharma was not an accused and had never been questioned, even though Lakhimpur Kheri is among the districts where the irregularities occurred.
Sharmas family questioned the polices suicide claim, saying they had looked for him at the health centre in Pasgawan a few times initially after he left home on February 7 and did not return. This has led to suspicion that he may have been killed elsewhere and his body dumped at the centre in the past few days.
Some health centre officials are being quizzed, sources said. But Lakhimpur deputy police superintendent R.S. Gautam insisted it was a prima facie case of suicide. He pointed out the doors of the room where Sharmas body was found were closed from inside.
We are not investigating the scam. I have no idea if his death is connected with the irregularities in the department, the DSP said.
Sharmas son Tushar alleged, however, that his father had been pressurised in recent months by seniors to sign some papers related to payments to contractors.
Sharmas widow Mithilesh alleged that her husband had been depressed over frequent transfers besides the withholding of salary on arbitrary grounds by seniors. In November last year, my husband resumed duty after our daughters wedding. He was then asked to report to Pasgawan. He was transferred thrice since 2011.
Four accused in the case have died earlier under mysterious circumstances since the scam came to light in October 2010.
One of them lay lifeless in a Lucknow jail toilet. Prison officials claimed it was a case of suicide, but his family suspected murder.