AK Shukla, arrested on Sunday night, has been charged with criminal conspiracy
In a fresh twist to the infamous CMO murder case, which is alleged to be linked to the multi-crore National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) scam in Uttar Pradesh, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Sunday night arrested the former Chief Medical Officer of Lucknow, A. K. Shukla. He has been charged with criminal conspiracy to eliminate Vinod Kumar Arya , CMO of the Family Welfare Department. Dr. Arya was shot dead near his residence at Vikas Nagar in Lucknow on October 27, 2010.
Dr. Shukla was produced on Monday before the Special CBI Court here which sent him to 14 days' judicial custody. Counsel for CBI pressed for 10 days' police remand for interrogating the former CMO. The CBI's plea was turned down by the court which has fixed May 9 as the next date of hearing when the investigating agency's plea for police remand would be taken up.
After his late night arrest by the CBI, Dr. Shukla was taken to Balrampur Hospital for a medical check-up on Monday after he complained of chest pain. He was declared fit by the doctors who examined him. The former CMO told journalists that he was innocent and alleged that he was being framed.
The killing of Dr. Arya was followed by the murder of his successor in the Family Welfare Department, B. P. Singh, who was shot dead on April 2, 2011. Dr. Singh was felled while he was on a morning walk in Gomtinagar here. As the double murder of the CMOs of the Family Welfare Department raised the stink of a scandal in implementation of NRHM schemes in the State, an embarrassed Mayawati Government responded by sacking the then Family Welfare Minister Babu Singh Kushwaha and the then Health Minister, Anant Kumar alias Antu Mishra, in April last year.
This was followed by the arrest of Dr. Shukla on charges of embezzlement of funds in the implementation of health schemes. He was released on bail on the orders of the Allahabad High Court.
The dust was yet to settle down on the sensational murders of the CMOs when the Deputy CMO of the Family Welfare Department, Y. S. Sachan, was found dead in mysterious circumstances in Lucknow District Jail on June 22 last year. Dr. Sachan was arrested on April 5, 2011, three days after the murder of Dr. B.P. Singh. He was arrested on charges of alleged embezzlement of NRHM funds when he functioned as the acting CMO of the department following Dr. Arya's killing and before Dr. Singh's appointment.
On June 17 last year, the police arrested three sharpshooters of eastern Uttar Pradesh, who confessed to have killed Dr. B.P. Singh. They are still in jail.
According to the police, following their interrogation the three accused are reported to have said that Dr. Sachan was allegedly involved in the conspiracy to eliminate Dr. Singh. The Deputy CMO was found dead in the toilet of the jail hospital a day before he was to be produced in court on June 23. The motive of the crime and whether Dr. Sachan was killed, or committed suicide -- the line toed by the Mayawati regime -- is yet to be ascertained by the CBI which is conducting an inquiry into the murder of the two CMOs, the mysterious death of the Deputy CMO and the NRHM scam.
But the trail of death, allegedly related to the NRHM scandal did not end with Dr. Sachan's mysterious death. Sunil Verma, an accused in the NRHM scam, committed suicide at his Lucknow residence on January 23. The Varanasi Deputy CMO, Shailesh Yadav, died in a road accident on Lucknow-Varanasi highway on February 10 and on February 15 the body of a clerk in the Lakhimpur Kheri CMO office was found by the police in Kheri. He had gone missing a few days back and was suspected to have been murdered.