Bikaner land grab case: ED conducts searches in Rajasthan

JAIPUR, May 6: ED has conducted searches at multiple locations in Rajasthan in connection with its money laundering probe arising out of a case of land grab in Bikaner involving a company allegedly linked to Robert Vadra.

Officials said the searches were conducted on at least eight locations in the border town of Bikaner and adjoining areas yesterday and the action has now ended.

The agency said the premises of 10 people, including some retired government officials, were brought under the action.

“The Enforcement Directorate conducted searches yesterday at eight premises in Bikaner and nearby areas, belonging to accused Jay Prakash Bagadwa, Ranjeet Singh, Kishore Singh, Gugan Gir and certain Government officials including retired ones like Faqir Mohd, Uma Charan, Deeparam and Mahavir Swamy in the case of Kolayat land scam,” an ED statement said.

ED teams examined documents allegedly related to Vadra’s company, which purchased lands and also quizzed some people, ED spokesperson A K Rawal said today.

The probe is related to the purchase of 275 bigha land allegedly by the company of Vadra, son-in-law of Congress President Sonia Gandhi, in Kolayat area of Bikaner.

Officials said action was taken in order to gather “documents and hard data” from various officials and individuals involved in the case under Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

The ED said property documents, bank accounts and Income Tax Returns (ITRs) were seized after the searches got over.

It is understood that the agency will soon issue summons to some firms and people involved in the case.

ED said “Bagadwa with the help of other accused persons allegedly forged the documents of colonisation department and got the government land allotted in the name of fictitious persons.

“The mutation in respect of said land was carried out in government revenue records in connivance with certain government officials.

“The plots of aforesaid land were further sold to various companies and individuals with help of forged letters of power of attorney in name of other accused persons. Acting on the inputs, the Directorate of Enforcement initiated its probe,” the statement said.

It added “certain documents seized at premises of Bagadwa reveal the association of accused with the land scam”.

The central agency registered a criminal case of money laundering in this case last year on the basis of 18 FIRs filed by the state police after the local tehsildar lodged a complaint.

ED has not mentioned the name of Vadra or any company linked to him in the FIR but it named some state government officials and some of the “land mafia”.

While filing the case, it had also taken cognisance of reports that had referred to a firm allegedly linked to Vadra which had purchased some of these Bikaner located lands.

Vadra has denied any wrongdoing even as Congress party called the action “sheer political vendetta”.

At the Congress briefing, party spokesman Randeep Surjewala refuted reports that any of the land belonged to Vadra.

“Tweeting with all authority and truth the raids are NOT against Robert Vadra. He does NOT own an inch of land in Bikaner Rajasthan,” Vadra’s brother-in-law Tehseen Poonawala tweeted.

The ED had conducted similar searches in the case in Delhi last year.

Rajasthan government had in January last year cancelled the mutation (transfer of land) of 374.44 hectares of land, after the land department claimed to have found that the allotments were made in the names of “illegal private persons”.

The tehsildar had said in the complaint that government land in 34 villages of Bikaner, to be used for expanding the army’s firing range in the area, was “grabbed” by the land mafia by preparing “forged and fabricated documents” in connivance with government officials.

Sources said the agency suspected huge amounts of money was laundered in this case by people buying land at cheap rates through forged documents.

The state government had, while cancelling the mutations, said that these were not issued by the Commissioner, Colonisation, Bikaner.

The state police had also filed charge sheets in the 18 cases in a court in Kolayat last year. (PTI)

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