Prime accused in PF scam found dead in jail

Prime accused in PF scam found dead in jail

43-year-old Ashutosh Astana, who has been in jail since his arrest in January last year, was found unconscious in his cell on Friday, Jail Superintendent V K Singh said.

"He was sweating a lot and was rushed to the district MMG government hospital but doctors there declared him brought dead," Singh said, adding the exact reason of his death is yet to be ascertained.

Hospital Superintendent A K Singh said it appears that Astana had consumed some poisonous substance and post mortem report is awaited.

Astana, the then Ghaziabad court staff, was a prime accused in the Rs 23-crore scam and lodged in a cell next to Nithari killings accused Surender Koli.

In his statement before a CBI court in September last year, Astana had named one Supreme Court, 12 High Court judges and 24 district and other judges in connection with the scam.

The case relates to a petition filed by a former president of a lawyers' body here alleging a major scam involving deposit and withdrawal of crores of rupees from PF accounts of third and fourth grade employees in Ghaziabad region between 2001 and 2008.

A probe into the death of Astana has been ordered by District Magistrate R Ramesh Kumar.
About two months ago, the deceased had requested the court to tighten his security inside the jail claiming that he was facing threats.