CBI raids premises of Hooda in Gurgaon land acquisition case
The CBI on Saturday conducted raids at 24 locations in Delhi and Haryana, including the premises of former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and his associates, over alleged irregularities in the acquisition of 400 acres of land in Gurgaon district by builders.
This land was bought from Gurgaon farmers during 2004-2007, during the reign of the Congress government, at throwaway prices causing a loss of over Rs 1,500 crore to the national exchequer.
An official said that separate Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) teams searched the homes and offices of former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, two former IAS officers, including Principal Secretary M.L. Tayal, UPSC member Chattar Singh, a serving IAS officer S.S. Dhillon, Dhar Singh, former chief town planner in Town and Country Planning Division (now retired), Atul Bansal and the director of ABW infrastructure in Delhi and Haryana’s Gurgaon, Rohtak, Chandigarh and Panchkula areas.
The raids were also carried out at the offices of ABW infrastructure, Beta promoters, Divya promoters and NCR promoters.
The CBI seized bank documents from Hooda’s house and also recovered the documents of some properties in the name of his relatives. From Chattar Singh’s residence in New Moti Bagh in Delhi, the CBI recovered some property documents based in Delhi’s Defence Colony and Haryana’s Faridabad area.
During searches at Dhillon’s Chandigarh residence, the investigators recovered documents of four properties in Gurgaon, Panchkula and Chandigarh, an official said, adding a documents of an agriculture land in Punjab was also recovered from his house.
From Bansal’s Delhi house, the CBI recovered 22 items for forensic evidence, including a laptop, hard disc and digital recorder.
The official said the raiding team seized soft copies of documents, files and maps related to allotted land during the searches at the Delhi and Rohtak-based houses of Dhar Singh.
Sources said that the CBI finally decided to conduct the raids following statements its officials recorded from several farmers and government officials linked to the case.
“Most of the farmers and officials had made allegations against Hooda, Tayal, Chattar Singh and Dhillon of cheating,” the source told IANS on condition of anonymity.
Congress Party spokesperson Tom Vadakkan termed the CBI raids “political vendetta” and “misuse of power”.
Haryana Minister Anil Vij, however, said that the CBI was the highest investigating agency and “it is an inquiry of the previous government’s reckless distribution (land)”.
On the request of the BJP-led Haryana government and directions of the party-led central government, the CBI registered a case against unknown public servants of the Haryana government and some private persons on September 15, 2015 under charges of cheating, forgery, criminal conspiracy and under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
The agency had taken over the investigation of the case filed on August 12, 2015 at Manesar Police station in Gurgaon.
“It is alleged that some private builders in conspiracy with Haryana government officials had purchased around 400 acres of land from the farmers of villages in Manesar, Naurangpur and Lakhnoula in Gurgaon at throwaway prices between August 27, 2004 and August 24, 2007,” said a CBI official, adding the farmers and the landowners were threatened with acquisition of their land by the government if they did not sell.
According to the official, the Haryana government had initially issued a notification under the land acquisition act for land measuring about 912 acres for setting up an industrial model township at villages in Manesar, Naurangpur and Lakhnoula.
“After that, all the land had allegedly been grabbed from the landowners and farmers by the private builders under the threat of acquisition at meagre rates,” the official said.
“An order was also passed by the director of industries on August 24, 2007 releasing the land from the acquisition process but the land was released in violation of the government policy in favour of the builders, their companies and agents, instead of the original landowners,” the official said.
The land whose market value at that time was above Rs 4 crore per acre, totalling about Rs 1,600 crore, was allegedly purchased by the private builders from the land owners for only about Rs 100 crore.