Will Goa CM’s comment influence Fabindia probe?

Panaji: Could Goa Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar, with his comments on the Fabindia case, first ruling out mal-intent and subsequently giving a clean chit to the top Fabindia management, end up influencing the crime branch probe?

Parsekar’s comment on Monday where he ruled out mischief by Fabindia’s top management and blamed junior staffers with womanizing tendencies, came at a time when the crime branch sleuths are expected to question top management, including chief executive officer Subrata Dutta and managing director William Bissell, in the case.

A senior police official from the North District police on condition of anonymity told IANS that the CCTV footage from Fabindia’s store in Goa was being monitored at various levels, by the store manager, company officials supervising security of stores across the country, across tiers and as such the blame for any lapse or tweaking of CCTV camera setting lies across the chain of command and not just with salespersons at the store, who were arrested on Friday and later released on bail.

“Any change of angle to cause mischief would have been observed by officials supervising security and even senior management, ideally they should be brought into the loop of investigation,” said the officer, who was part of the North District investigation team before the case was transferred to the Crime Branch.

“Fabindia is supposed to be a reputed company. I personally feel that it must not be the company’s fault but mischief played by its staff members. Some womanizers must have done that,” Parsekar told reporters on Monday after returning from the Bharatiya Janata Party national executive in Bengaluru.

On Sunday, however, he said: “Before Smritiji, there are images of women of who used the room, but not whole (images). Seems like it was not intentional, probably unintentional.”

Parsekar also holds the home portfolio, to which the police department reports. So, is it proper on the part of a home minister to give a clean chit to a company, on the eve of the Crime Branch summoning two top officials for questioning?

“Parsekar as the home minister should not have made the comment midway through the investigation. He should have waited for police to complete the probe,” Congress spokesperson Durgadas Kamat said.

The investigation has already seen several glaring lapses. These include trespassing of the crime scene by Bharatiya Janata Party legislators and leaders on Friday, the day union Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani first raised alarm about the allegedly intrusive CCTV.

BJP legislator Michael Lobo was allowed by police to scan through critical evidence in this case. He said that it contained video clips of women changing clothes in the trial room.

When contacted, BJP leader Wilfred Mesquita said police should be allowed to investigate the case in peace and politicians should refrain from commenting on it until the probe is completed.

Four junior employees of Fabindia were arrested on Friday and released on bail a day later by a local trial court, which did not buy police argument that the camera lens was tweaked with mal-intent.

Fabindia has formally issued an apology to Irani, but has denied any wrongdoing on its part.

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