CURSE OFTHE DEVI

Lat­est rev­e­la­tions sug­gest Gehlot’s in­ep­ti­tude ex­tends to the miss­ing nurse case

India Today - - NATION - By

IN­DRA BISH­NOI,

Bhan­wri Devi’s friend

Ro­hit Par­i­har

Could Ra­jasthan Chief Min­is­ter Ashok Gehlot have saved Bhan­wri Devi, the nurse and folk dancer who has been miss­ing since Septem­ber 1 and is be­lieved to be dead? A fresh claim that she had in­formed him about her video with former Cabi­net min­is­ter Mahipal Maderna much be­fore be­ing ab­ducted has kicked up a po­lit­i­cal storm with the Op­po­si­tion leader, Va­sund­hara Raje, de­mand­ing Raje de­mand­ing Gehlot’s res­ig­na­tion. On Novem­ber 7, In­dra Bish­noi, sis­ter of Congress MLA Malkhan Singh Bish­noi, al­leged that Bhan­wri had met Gehlot a year ago. “She told him about a VCD show­ing her in a com­pro­mis­ing po­si­tion with Maderna,” she said. In­dra and Malkhan—now a sus­pect in the case— had been close to Bhan­wri for years.

The Chief Min­is­ter dis­missed the claim, say­ing, “I meet many peo­ple and can’t re­mem­ber if she met me too.” But even if Gehlot doesn’t re­mem­ber any meet­ing, Maderna had him­self briefed him on the is­sue in June and was ad­vised to sort it out through Malkhan. Gehlot may have used the in­for­ma­tion to keep Maderna, a de­trac­tor, on ten­ter­hooks, a se­nior Congress leader says. “Had Gehlot acted in time in­stead of pro­cras­ti­nat­ing for po­lit­i­cal com­pul­sions, Bhan­wri Devi would not have gone miss­ing,” says Arun Chaturvedi, state BJP chief.

In a joint state­ment, four BJP MLAS have de­manded an independent in­quiry over this is­sue in­volv­ing a Sched­uled Caste wo­man. In a fur­ther em­bar­rass­ment, the lo­cal me­dia ran sto­ries in the first week of Novem­ber link­ing Bhan­wri to three of Gehlot’s trusted bu­reau­crats and ac­cused the po­lice of sup­press­ing facts.

In­dra lev­elled the charge af­ter she was quizzed by the CBI in Jodh­pur. Three tapes of her, Bhan­wri, Sahi Ram Bish­noi, an ab­scon­der, and So­han Lal Bish­noi, a prime ac­cused now in jail, con­vers­ing had sur­faced on Novem­ber 4 and 5. In­dra is quoted telling Bhan­wri to stop black­mail­ing the min­is­ter.

The con­spir­acy to elim­i­nate Bhan­wri was hatched in Au­gust this year af­ter she al­legedly threat­ened Maderna at a pub­lic func­tion. On Septem­ber 1, So­han Lal called her to his home in Bi­lara, in Jodh­pur, for a mone­tary trans­ac­tion. She was then force­fully shifted to a Bolero in the cus­tody of Sha­habud­din, a his­tory-sheeter, and driven around to be handed over to six mem­bers of a Jalore-based Bish­noi gang in a Scorpio which has been linked to per­sons close to Maderna.

The Bolero was found in Palan­pur in Gu­jarat. The Scorpio, and the men in it, are un­traced. The CBI and po­lice have failed to ex­tract any in­for­ma­tion from So­han Lal and Sha­habud­din, who have been ar­rested. They main­tain that she

“Bhan­wri told Gehlot about a VCD show­ing her with Maderna in a com­pro­mis­ing po­si­tion.”

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