Goa Tourism Minister Mickky Pacheco of the Nationalist Congress Party, allegedly involved in the controversy over the death of a woman, resigned on Saturday and went underground.

He is also facing several cases of extortion and assault and a case of bigamy, stemming from a complaint by his former wife.

Pacheco, who was questioned for nearly nine hours by the Crime Branch of the State police on Friday in connection with the death of Nadia Torrado, a 28-year-old woman he claimed to be a family friend, did not present himself before the police for the second session of interrogation on Saturday, despite a directive.

Case registered

The police have registered a case of abetment to suicide against unknown people in the case.

Referring to Pacheco's decision to go underground, police sources indicated that there was strong circumstantial evidence to press the charge of abetment to suicide against him.

The woman from south Goa died last week at a Chennai hospital, where she was admitted after she consumed rat poison.

Pacheco could not be contacted after he faxed his resignation letter to Chief Minister Digambar Kamat. Mr. Kamat said he had forwarded Pacheco's resignation letter to the Governor with a request that it be accepted.

The Congress and the NCP would decide who should replace Pacheco in the Cabinet, he said. However, sources in the NCP indicated that it would be party nominee Nilkant Halankar.

In his letter, Pacheco said he was resigning from the Cabinet in view of the allegations levelled against him.

“We called him to the Crime Branch for the second [session of] questioning on Saturday. We have not been able to contact him ever since he submitted his resignation,” a police spokesman told presspersons here.

BJP seeks probe

“We have alerted all police stations. The former Minister is not traceable.”

While women's rights groups demanded the Minister's removal from the Cabinet, the Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party sought a probe by an IPS officer or the Central Bureau of Investigation into the issue.

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