NRHM scam: UP health official found dead

The multi-crore NRHM scam grew murkier when a missing health department accountant was found dead under mysterious circumstances.

Lakhimpur Kheri/New Delhi: The multi-crore
NRHM scam grew murkier when a missing health department accountant was found dead under mysterious circumstances, the
fifth victim of the corruption scandal in the last one year.

UP police found the body of 52-year-old Mahendra Sharma
lying in a pool of blood with severe injuries on his head and
face from the Pasgawan health centre area in Lakhimpur Kheri
district on Wednesday evening. Sharma has been reported missing since February 7, police said.

Additional Superintendent of Police Rajiv Malhotra said
ante-mortem smothering has been stated to be the cause of the
death in the autopsy report and that six injuries were also
detected on his body.

The post-mortem was conducted by a panel of three doctors
and the entire process was video-graphed, he said.

The National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) scam, which has
haunted the Mayawati government, relates to the alleged
financial irregularities in disbursal of Rs.10,000 crore of
central funds for supply of medicines and medical equipment.

Sharma`s son Tushar alleged that he was being
pressurized to sign some papers.

The CBI, which is probing the scam, has asked the state
police to beef up 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.

The fifth death in the NRHM scam gave the Congress and
BJP handle to slam the Mayawati government, accusing it of
actively colluding in the "massive bungling".

Congress star campaigner Priyanka Gandhi accused the
BSP government of misuse of funds meant for 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 last about 7-8 years."

Family members of the accountant have accused health
department officials of harassment.

In New Delhi, the CBI said it has neither questioned
nor summoned Sharma in connection with the probe.