Lucknow, (IANS) The multi-crore National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) scam in Uttar Pradesh turned murkier Monday when a 55-year-old engineer, under probe for his alleged involvement in the case, shot himself dead with his revolver.
Sunil Kumar Verma was engaged in construction work under the NHRM. He was rushed to a private hospital close to his house, and then taken to the trauma centre of a medical college where he was declared “dead”.
Verma was working as project manager of a subsidiary construction agency of Uttar Pradesh Jal Nigam. The agency was awarded contracts for construction and repair of primary health centres in rural areas.
While the agency’s managing director P.K. Jain is already under custody of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which is probing the Rs.8,000-crore scam, Verma was also questioned by the agency a few days ago. According to sources close to him, Verma was worried that the CBI would arrest him soon.
Describing Verma as “among the key accused”, the CBI did not rule out the possibility of his arrest over the next few days.
Meanwhile, Lucknow’s Deputy Inspector General of Police D.K. Thakur claimed to have discovered a suicide note left behind by Verma, in which he has described himself as an upright man.
“I am an honest worker and have not indulged in any kind of bungling; but CBI is out to frame me in the case, so I have no choice but to end my life.” he is said to have written in his suicide note.
The note, according to Thakur, also adds, “I hold no one other than myself responsible for taking this decision to commit suicide.”
Verma was the fourth person to have lost his life in connection with the NRHM scam. Three chief medical officers of Lucknow were killed, allegedly on account of various issues related to gross irregularities in execution of the NRHM in the country’s most populous state.
Health services in the state are in a shambles. However, far from being put to good use, the huge funds flowing in from NRHM were plundered with impunity, according to investigators.
A CAG probe into the scam revealed that besides huge kickbacks, crores of rupees were pilfered through fake invoices, false payments and dummy supply of equipment and medicines.