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Jailed scamster enjoys hotel stay

Bhubaneswar, Feb. 25: The main accused and an undertrial in the Uliburu mining scam, Deepak Gupta, who had come from the Keonjhar Jail to Cuttack for medical treatment, was found to have stayed in a hotel instead of SCB Medical College.

District police today suspended four constables and a havildar, supposed to have been guarding Gupta, on charges of dereliction of duties. Such was his alleged influence on the administration, Gupta, who is in his 40s, is said to have managed to spend 103 days out of his 167 days of incarceration in various hospitals. Police sources said that officially he was supposed to be in the hospital, but he had stayed in various hotels during the period.

A police team from Keonjhar yesterday took him into custody from SCB Medical College after it had got the information that Gupta was not staying at the health care facility. He was taken to Keonjhar jail.

The accused was initially admitted to Keonjhar district headquarters hospital last month. “Two weeks ago, Gupta was shifted to SCB Medical College. A team of local police was sent to guard him,” Keonjhar reserve police inspector Arun Kumar Nayak said.

During the investigation, it turned out that though Gupta should have been in one of the hospital wards, he had been staying in a hotel in the city. The room was booked in the name of his father. He was supposed to have been admitted to cardiothoracic ward.

As report of his lavish lifestyle spread, SCB Medical College and Hospital authorities discharged him on Sunday. However, he was admitted to the orthopaedic ward the next day on the ground that he was having pain in his knee. “We have ordered an inquiry about the role of the hospital staff in allowing him to step outside,” said health and family minister Damodar Rout.

Nayak said: “The suspended havildar, Basant Rout, and four other constables — Kamalakanta Dwivedi, Purushottam Das, Bijay Kumar Nayak and Hiteswar Nayak — were part of the guard party.”

The vigilance wing of state police arrested Gupta on September 4 last after he had evaded arrest for nearly six months. The police had displayed posters outside his residence and various localities of Barbil town in Keonjhar district in its efforts to trace him.

Following a hue and cry that he was being shielded by the administration, the police had detained his family members. Subsequently, Gupta had surrendered before the vigilance police in Cuttack last year.

The Justice M.B. Shah Commission, which had probed into the mining scam in Odisha and elsewhere, in its report to the Centre last month, had said minerals worth over Rs 1,800 crore was looted from the Uliburu mines.

Justice Shah had observed that such a large operation could not have happened without the connivance of the administration.

It was alleged that Gupta did the mining extraction on the basis of a power of attorney from B.K. Mohanty, the lease holder of the Uliburu mines.

Mohanty had executed the power of attorney of the leased mines in favour of Gupta, the managing director of Deepak Steel and Power. He and his accomplices are said to have excavated huge amount of iron ore from nearby reserve forest area by shifting the boundary wall of the actual leased mines.

After the issue snowballed into a major controversy, the state government had entrusted the vigilance to conduct a probe in July 2011. Gupta had played a game of hide and seek with the vigilance as well as the police.

Following raids on several places across the state, the police had registered criminal cases against Deepak and 18 others.