UP health scam: 5th official found dead, family cries murder

Uttar Pradesh's health scam turned murkier last evening with another health official surfacing dead, the fifth victim so far in a scandal involving the misuse of Rs 10,000 crore of central funds.

UP police found the body of accountant Mahendra Sharma last evening, lying in a pool of blood with severe injuries to his head and face, from the Pasgawan health centre area in Lakhimpur Kheri. Sharma, 52, was reported missing since February 7, police said.

The CBI, which is probing the scam, has asked the state police to strengthen security of witnesses and suspects.

In 2010-11, two senior doctors associated with the health department were murdered within months of each other. Another official was found dead in a Lucknow jail. In January, a UP Jal Nigam officer allegedly committed suicide because he was being investigated in connection with the scam.

As the news of another murder spread, Congress and the BJP slammed the Mayawati government, accusing it of actively colluding in the "massive bungling".

Congress star campaigner Priyanka Gandhi accused the Mayawati government of misusing funds meant for the improvement of health facilities in the state.

BJP spokesperson Ravishankar Prasad said, "The larger issue is the liability of Mayawati herself as the chief minister and the earlier regime of Mulayam Singh Yadav because the entire scam was spread over the last 7 to 8 years."

Family members of the accountant have accused health department officials of harassment. Sharma's wife Mithilesh said frequent transfers of her husband had depressed him. She also accused health officials of withholding his salary.

Mithilesh alleged after fixing their daughter's marriage on November 21 last, Sharma was informed about another transfer.

Meanhwile, the CBI in New Delhi denied having questioned Sharma in connection with the probe. "CBI has neither questioned nor summoned this person. CBI is in close touch with the local police regarding safety concerns of potential witnesses, suspects etc," a CBI spokesperson said here.

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