Taking the investigation in the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Vinod Kumar Arya murder case further, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) once again interrogated the former Uttar Pradesh Health Minister, Anant Kumar Mishra alias Antu Mishra, on Thursday. Mr. Mishra had been questioned twice by the investigating agency early this week. Dr. Arya, then CMO in the Family Welfare Department, was gunned down near his Vikas Nagar residence on October 27, 2010 and the killing was allegedly attributed to the multi-crore health scam in the State.

According to CBI sources, during his interrogation the former Minister was brought face-to-face with the former CMO of Lucknow, A.K. Shukla. Dr. Shukla was arrested by the CBI last fortnight on charges of criminal conspiracy to eliminate Dr. Arya and is presently on four-day police remand. His remand commenced on Wednesday.

Not out of the woods

Mr. Mishra was allowed to go after his interrogation which lasted about two-and-a-half hours, albeit on the condition that he would not leave Lucknow and would be available for further questioning in the case.

Even as the former Minister told waiting journalists that he would cooperate with the CBI, the investigating agency's directives clearly suggested that Mr. Mishra was still not out of the woods.

By pitting Mr. Mishra against the former CMO, the central investigating agency tried to establish their links and the possibility of their alleged involvement in the murder of Dr. Arya. During Dr. Shukla's interrogation on Wednesday, the CBI had quizzed him on his reported association with the former Health Minister. Sources said the former CMO was asked why he frequented Mr. Mishra's official residence quite often.

Sachan's presence

Sources said Dr. Shukla had an easy access to the former Minister's residence and the CBI also seemed to have found that the then Deputy CMO of the Family Welfare Department, Y.S. Sachan, was also present in some meetings between Mr. Mishra and Dr. Shukla.

Dr. Sachan was found dead under mysterious circumstances in the Lucknow district jail on June 22, 2011. In the long list of high-profile murders allegedly related to the implementation of the Rs. 5700 crore National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) scam in Uttar Pradesh, prior to Dr. Sachan's mysterious death, B.P. Singh, Dr. Arya's successor as CMO, Family Welfare, was killed on April 2, 2011 while on a morning walk in Gomtinagar.

The former high-profile Health Minister in the Mayawati regime had been interrogated by the CBI last week and his grilling had lasted several hours.

After the interrogation he was allowed to go home, but was told that he should make himself available for further interrogation.

SOG, STF summoned

Prior to calling the former Minister for another round of interrogation on Thursday, the CBI had summoned the members of the Special Operation Group (SOG) and the Special Task Force (STF), which had claimed to have cracked the double murder of the CMOs, Dr. Arya and Dr. B.P. Singh.

The STF and SOG teams had arrested two sharp shooters, Anand Prakash Tiwari and Vinod Sharma, last year and had claimed that the double murder was executed by the duo.

Also arrested was a contractor, R.K. Verma, who is said to have hired the sharp shooters to carry out the killings.

It had been claimed by the STF that the killers were contracted at the behest of Dr. Sachan.

Mr. Antu Mishra and the former Family Welfare Minister, Babu Singh Kushwaha were sacked by the former Chief Minister, Mayawati, in April last year following the sensational murder of Dr. B.P. Singh. Mr. Kushwaha is in jail in connection with the NRHM scam.

The former Principal Secretary, Health and Family Welfare, Pradeep Shukla, who was arrested by the CBI last week in the NRHM scam was on Thursday sent to judicial custody till May 28 by a designated court in Ghaziabad.