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Goa minister resigns, absconding after 'friend's' suicide

Source: PTI
June 05, 2010 16:27 IST
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Goa Tourism Minister Fransisco Pacheco on Saturday resigned from the Cabinet over allegations about his involvement in the death of a woman friend and is 'untraceable', prompting the police to launch a manhunt for him.

Pacheco, 46, faxed his resignation letter to the chief minister's office on Saturday afternoon, a day after he was quizzed by the Crime Branch in the case.

In the letter, the Nationalist Congress Party leader said he was quitting because of the charges against him in the death of Nadia Torrado. Nadia, 28, a close friend of the NCP leader, had died on Sunday at Chennai allegedly after consuming rat poison.

A case of abetment of suicide has been filed against unknown persons. Pacheco, who was grilled for over eight hours on Friday and summoned by the police on Saturday, went missing after quitting, prompting the police to launch a search for the politician.

"The minister is not traceable," police spokesman Atmaram Deshpande told PTI. "We have alerted all the police stations to look out for him."

The police summoned Pacheco earlier this week after women's organisations in the state alleged his involvement in Nadia's death. Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party has demanded an inquiry by the Nationalist Congress Party into the matter. Pacheco, elected from Benaulim constituency, was a prominent NCP minister in the Congress-led coalition government in the state.

Nadia's mother Sonia and her estranged husband Wilson Barretto were also questioned by Crime Branch on Friday. The woman had allegedly consumed rat poison a fortnight ago and was shifted to a private hospital in Thane, before being taken to Chennai, after she started developing liver complications.

Nadia's family members have claimed she consumed the rat poison paste by mistake. In statements to the sub-divisional magistrate at Margao, family members claimed that it was a case of accidental death.

Pacheco, who has denied all charges, accused the police of indulging in 'witch-hunting'. In a letter to the chief minister, he has accused the police of harassing him.

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