Maha govt sets up panel to probe phone-tapping allegation made by state Cong chief

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Mumbai, Jul 10 (PTI) The Maharashtra government has appointed a high-level committee under state DGP Sanjay Pandey to probe state Congress chief Nana Patole's allegation that his phone was tapped when he was MP in 2016-17 under the watch of the then BJP government led by Devendra Fadnavis.

State intelligence department commissioner and additional police commissioner (special branch) will be part of this three-member panel, as per the order issued by the state government on Friday night.

During the two-day monsoon session of the Maharashtra legislature held earlier this week, Home Minister Dilip Walse Patil had made the announcement about setting up a high-level inquiry while speaking in the Legislative Assembly.

Patole had claimed that his phone was tapped during 2016-17 when he was a Member of Parliament (MP) and when the state government was headed by Devendra Fadnavis. He said his phone was tapped on the pretext that it belonged to drug-peddler Amjad Khan.

The committee would probe the case and submit its report to the legislature in three months, the order said.

The terms and references for the committee are to scrutinise the cases of phone-tapping between 2015 and 2019 and find out whether there was any political motive.

'If the phone surveillance was politically motivated, action will be taken,' the order said.

When Patole raised the issue in the House, several members supported the need for a high-level probe.

Patole represents the Sakoli Assembly segment in the Bhandara district of the Vidarbha region. He had earlier quit the Congress and won the 2014 Lok Sabha election on the BJP's ticket. However, he left the saffron party in 2017 citing differences with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Fadnavis, and returned to the Congress. On Saturday, BJP MLA and former minister Ashish Shelar questioned Patole's 'silence' for two years before raising the phone-tapping allegation against the erstwhile Fadnavis government, even as the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) dispensation in the state was formed in November 2019.

The Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress and NCP are the constituents of the MVA government.

Speaking to a regional news channel, Shelar said, “Patole has levelled the allegation that his phone calls were tapped by the previous Fadnavis government. However, he has made the allegation two years after the formation of the MVA government. What was he doing in the last two years?” The BJP leader quipped that Patole keeps passing amusing comments. PTI MR ND NP NSK NSK

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