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Politics

Goa BJP Minister Milind Naik Resigns After Accusation of Sexual Exploitation

Goa Congress chief Girish Chodankar had accused Naik of being involved in the sexual exploitation of a woman from Bihar by misusing his power as a cabinet member.

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New Delhi: Goa chief minister Pramod Sawant has said the state government will conduct an investigation into the Congress’s allegation of BJP legislator Milind Naik being involved in a sexual exploitation case.

Naik, who was serving as Goa’s urban development minister, resigned from the state cabinet on Wednesday after meeting the chief minister in Panaji.

Goa Congress chief Girish Chodankar had accused Naik of being involved in the sexual exploitation of a woman from Bihar by misusing his power as a cabinet member. “Whether it’s a crime or not is a different issue. But a minister is misusing his position and sexually exploiting a woman. Such a minister is a disgrace to Goa and all Goans. He should immediately be sacked and this government needs to show the people of Goa that ministers like Milind Naik who exploit women will not be spared,” he said.

State Congress vice president Sankalp Amonkar had also filed a police complaint against Naik and released a purported audio conversation between the victim and the MLA.

After meeting the BJP legislator late Wednesday night, Sawant told reporters that Naik has resigned for a free and fair investigation into the case. “I have accepted the resignation and also sent it to the governor. Whatever evidence the Congress has produced that we will be investigate,” he said.

The chief minister also said Naik told him that he will fight the case at a personal level. “The allegations made against him are personal and what he will do about it will be a subject of his personal decision,” said Sawant.

The cabinet post will remain vacant and there will be no fresh induction, he said. “I will handle all his portfolios,” Sawant said.

The state assembly elections are due in February 2022. Chodankar has demanded that police initiate a probe into the allegation against Naik.

According to the Indian Express, on December 10 a woman in Bihar had filed a case against Amonkar and other Congress leaders for extortion, sexual harassment and criminal conspiracy. The case was transferred to the Goa police on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Amonkar and other Congress leaders on Wednesday launched a police complaint against Naik at the women’s police station in Panaji. They claimed to have cell phone records and other evidence proving that the minister sexually harassed the woman and forced her to have an abortion.

“We have submitted all the evidence we had against Naik including the woman’s original phone and a copy. The victim has turned hostile and she was forced to file the complaint against us. I am ready to cooperate with the police,” Amonkar said.

The woman had first approached him in November 2019, the Congress leader said. “She showed us the WhatsApp chats, video and audio and when I first saw it I was very angry. She said she was used, exploited, promised employment and threatened,” said Amonkar.

Five months ago though, the Congress leader said, the woman took back her statement saying she was scared for herself and her child. The conversations between the woman and Naik took place in 2015-16, he said.

(With PTI inputs)