A Conspiracy, What Else?

Now get to know about the new characters in a sting operation. I get a phone call. The person calling identifies himself as Odisha’s Industry Minister, Badri Patra, and says that our Chief Minister, Naveen Patnaik, wants to talk to you on a very urgent matter. After this the person says that you stood by Anna Hazare a lot and after Annaji’s fast, the way the Lokpal Bill was passed and the role you played, all of us have a lot of praise for you. He repeated that Naveenji wants to talk to you about a very urgent matter. I said, the Lokpal Bill was passed by MPs. In this, Parliament had a role, what is my role? And, I said, as for talking with Naveen Patnaik, I have no objection, I will talk to him. Then the person said that Naveen Patnaik wants to talk to General V. K. Singh. I said, then you should call General V. K. Singh. At this, the person replied that I want if you could call General Sahib and give him the message that Naveen Patnaik wants to talk to him on a personal matter, it would be better. I said, all right, if Naveen Patnaik has some personal work with General V. K. Singh, I’ll tell him.

The first doubt was why a Minister, a Chief Minister, with whom I had no familiarity, should want to contact General V. K. Singh through Santosh Bhartiya. The second doubt was that I have heard Naveen Patnaik’s voice on TV, though I have not heard him speaking in Hindi. I have heard him in English or in Oriya. Naveen Patnaik is not in the habit of talking in Hindi, but the person who was talking to me as Naveen Patnaik was talking in pure Hindi, never mind if it was Oriya Hindi.

I called General V. K. Singh. At that time General V.K. Singhji was with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Singh in Bengluru. I said to General Sahib that Odisha’s Chief Minister, Naveen Patnaik, has some personal work with you and wants to talk to you — Odisha’s Industries Minister called me and said that Naveen has some very urgent work, therefore he wants you to call him. Till now no doubt or suspicion had come to my mind. At eight o’clock at night the person called again and said I am Odisha’s Industry Minister Badri Patra speaking, here, talk to Naveen Patnaik Sahib. Patnaik Sahib said to me, Santoshji, for the role you played in the Lokpal, very many congratulations to you. We people are in favour of the Lokpal. Then he said that I have some personal work with General V. K. Singh. I said tell us what work, in case we people can be of some help?
He said that a relative of mine has met with an accident in Andhra Pradesh and a compromise has to be discussed. I cannot say anything myself. General V. K. Singh is a big man. If he has somebody there, he can discuss a compromise and if any transaction of give and take has to be made then that too can be done, but this case has to be suppressed. At this, it struck my mind. I said, Chief Minister, you have people. If you want to, you can send them. The reply from the other end came that no, if I could have sent I would certainly have sent. I don’t wish to talk to Kiran Kumar Reddy, because he does not like me or I do not like him, therefore I want that General V. K. Singh should get this work done. I said, I have given your Badri Patraji his number, you can talk to him directly.
The first doubt was why a Minister, a Chief Minister, with whom I had no familiarity, should want to contact General V. K. Singh through Santosh Bhartiya. The second doubt was that I have heard Naveen Patnaik’s voice on TV, though I have not heard him speaking in Hindi. I have heard him in English or in Oriya. Naveen Patnaik is not in the habit of talking in Hindi, but the person who was talking to me as Naveen Patnaik was talking in pure Hindi, never mind if it was Oriya Hindi.
I promptly called V. K. Singh Sahib and said that General Sahib, ask those people to call you on a landline, because it seems to be some fraud to me. It is perhaps a trap in which he wants to get one entangled by asking something. It is not Odisha’s Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. General Sahib said,absolutely! If a call comes, I will say just this. Then General Sahib said in any case, in what way am I connected? I am an ordinary person, what do I have to with Andhra? After that there was another call from that person who was calling himself Odisha’s Industry Minister. He said never mind, if the work can’t be done there are many contractors who are connected through the Ministry. I will get this work done through them. I said, get your work done through whoever you want, we people are in Delhi, we are ordinary people.
The question that arises is who are these people who are getting this done and why did they want to talk through me to General V. K. Singh about helping in an accident compromise case? Perhaps these people wanted to get a voice sample of mine and of General V. K. Singh. After taking a voice sample, the voice can be used through a good artist or computer in any kind of conversation. Or perhaps there could be some other motive behind this, which I could not understand. After this I found out that Badri Patra was Odisha’s Minister of Higher Education and not its Industries Minister as the person had claimed on the phone.
When I got Badri Patra’s number and called on the number my correspondent gave me, an older voice answered, whereas the voice that had spoken before had been that of a young person. I said to Badri Patra I am Santosh Bhartiya speaking, and he said yes, tell me. I asked, a short while ago perhaps I spoke to you? and he said no, but if there is something tell me. I said, there is nothing at the moment, if there is later I will call. I again called my Odisha correspondent and asked him to call on the number and find out who it was. When the correspondent called, a voice answered in a somewhat hard tone and when the correspondent made enquiries it was found that the phone was registered in Goa and is in the name of Digambar Kamat. Digamber Kamat is a former Chief Minister of Goa.
This incident got me somewhat worried. I felt that in the name of a sting operation this was a planned conspiracy by either the Intelligence Agencies or people in India who wanted to malign General V.K . Singh or Indian journalism. In fact, the attempt was to take a voice sample, there is no doubt about that. The lesson that can be gleaned from this is that if anybody calls you and says that I am so and so speaking, and it is a person with whom you are not familiar or have not interacted, never trust such a call and get the phone number verified by another person. In the last few days there have been many travesties in the country in the name of sting operations and now an attempt is being made at a new kind of sting operation so that General V.K. Singh or I get encircled by questions.
Who can these people be? Either it is the weapons lobby of brokers which wants to target General V.K. Singh’s prestige and integrity with question marks. Or then there are some people in journalism itself who do PR journalism and as the saying goes are ‘more loyal than the king’ and do something or the other in the interests of those who do not like principled journalism. Or thirdly, perhaps it is the Intelligence Agencies which are tapping our phones day and night.
Incidents like this cause me concern that in the near future something will happen which will be akin to throwing mud on one’s integrity and prestige. I do not believe that any foreign agency could be involved, but I do believe that some agency has hired some people so that they can spin a big conspiracy against General V. K. Singh and me and trap us in that conspiracy. But the truth remains the truth. I am not filing any FIR, but I am making the episode public, so that if any agency takes notice, I have that number with me on which the conversation with ‘that person’ took place. General V. K. Singh also has the number from which the person who claimed to be Odisha’s Industries Minister spoke. We know that Intelligence Agencies do not have the time for conspiracies against General V. K. Singh or against me as they are involved in very important work. But we are taking a step in the direction of fulfilling our duty by placing this entire episode before our readers.

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