The Enforcement Directorate on Thursday conducted searches at various locations in Rajasthan in connection with the Bikaner land scam case, which is allegedly connected to a company linked to Congress chief Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra.
The agency conducted searches at “eight premises in Bikaner and nearby areas, belonging to accused Jay Prakash Bagadwa, Ranjeet Singh, Kishore Singh, Gugan Gir and certain government officials”, an ED official said. Raids were also conducted on the premises of some retired officials, including Faqir Mohammed, Uma Charan, Deeparam and Mahavir Swamy.
The case pertains to acquisition of around 1,400 acres of land, sold to seven companies between 2009 and 2011. One of these was Sky Light Hospitality (SLH), a firm connected to Vadra.
Sources claimed that during the searches, the ED found property documents, bank accounts, income tax returns and other papers allegedly connected to the case. “Certain documents seized at premises of Jay Prakash Bagadwa reveal the association of the accused with the land scam,” an ED statement said.
According to the ED, the state police had earlier filed 18 chargesheets in the case in which Bagadwa, with the help of other accused, allegedly forged documents of the colonisation department and got government land allotted in the name of fictitious persons.
“The mutation in r/o 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 the help of forged letters of power of attorney in the name of other accused persons,” an ED statement said.
The ED had in November last year conducted searches at various companies allegedly connected to the case. These include the premises of Allegeny Finlease Pvt Ltd at Chittaranjan Park. Allegeny, ED sources claimed, bought 69.5 hectares from SLH at more than seven times the original price. ED sources claimed SLH bought the land at Rs 72 lakh and sold it to Allegeny at Rs 5.25 crore.
Sources said that when Allegeny bought the land, it did not have money. The money allegedly flowed into its coffers from a steel manufacturing giant already facing a CBI probe in the coal block allocation case and a bank fraud.
The ED FIR, however, does not name Vadra as an accused and only mentions government officials who allegedly connived with the land mafia. The Congress has called the ED investigations a case of “political vendetta” by the government.
As reported in The Indian Express on December 11, 2014, Allegeny and two other firms bought large tracts of land from companies linked to Vadra. These are linked to Faridabad-based manufacturer of medical disposables Poly Medicure Ltd, which has links to the family of Congress leader and former Rajasthan finance minister, the late Chandan Mal Baid.
According to records, Allegeny Finlease, Sachchiya Enterprises and VCB Trading own 14.1 per cent, 3.5 per cent and 4 per cent, respectively, in Poly Medicure. These companies paid three to seven times the price at which Vadra’s companies were buying land in the same areas at around the same time.
In January, the Rajasthan government cancelled mutation of 374.44 hectares, after the land department claimed to have found that the allotments were made in the names of “illegal private persons”.