| The arrested persons . Telegraph pictures
Kendrapra, May 8: Cracking its whip on the tender fixing of government-sponsored civil construction projects, local police have arrested eight persons, including five members of a gang led by history-sheeter Tito.
The police got vital clues on the tender-fixing racket while investigating into a shootout incident that had left three persons critically injured at the Badapalagada Bazaar on May 3. Electronic tracking of cell phones led to busting the racket.
Three revolvers, live cartridges, two motorbikes and a car were seized from the arrested persons.
The members of Tito-led crime syndicate were allegedly masterminding tender fixing in various construction division offices here. Though the gang leader is now behind the bar, he was reportedly calling the shots from jail through his henchmen.
Police sources said unscrupulous contractors used to seek the services of these gang members for winning tender awards.
“Recently, tenders worth Rs 6 crore for 252 government civil construction projects were invited. The police were in receipt of definite information that criminals had rigged the tender process by intimidating prospective bidders. Many bidders are said to have withdrawn from the tender-bidding process making the field open to the mafia to decide the beneficiaries,” said Kendrapara superintendent of police Narasingha Bhol.
The recent shootout incident at the Badapalagada Bazaar was believed to be the handwork of the Tito-led gang, which had shot at two contractors for defying their orders and participating in the bidding process.
The arrested persons were Ashok Panda of Cuttack, Manas Sahu of Ghatagaon, Avinandan Pallei of Nikirai, Satyajit Mahali of Balasore and Kashinath Dhal of Kendrapara. Besides, two contractors and a cab owner have also been taken into custody for their involvement in tender fixing.
The arrested contractors were among others who had allegedly bagged the contracts by pressing these gang members into service. Rival bidders had stayed away from the process after receiving threat calls from these goons.
Though the authorities chose to go for e-tendering to keep a tab on tender fixing, these goons threw their hats by giving threat calls to bidders and asking them not to get involved in the process, police said.
“Some contractors, who were warned not to take part in the bidding, informed the police about the threat calls. The police were vigilant. We had promised to provide security to the contractors,” said the police superintendent.