The Rajasthan Anti-Corruption Bureau Wednesday took Principal Secretary (Mines) Ashok Singhvi into custody, hours after senior officials of the state mining department were reportedly caught red-handed accepting a bribe of Rs 2.5 crore in cash for resuming operations of a mine in Chittorgarh.
IAS officer Singhvi was found to have allegedly masterminded the entire bribing racket, in collusion with ‘middleman’ Sanjay Sethi.
The ACB teams had raided Singhvi’s residence and searches were being conducted at the time of filing this report. Singhvi was about to be arrested, ACB sources said.
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Earlier in the day, Additional Director (Mines) Pankaj Gehlot and Senior Mining Engineer P R Ameta — along with Sanjay Sethi — were reportedly caught accepting Rs 2.5 crore in Udaipur, by an ACB team led by IG Dinesh M N. The bribe was allegedly being given by mining baron Sher Khan for resuming operations of some mines he owned in Chittorgarh. Gehlot and Ameta were allegedly accepting the bribe for Singhvi.
“He (Singhvi) has been detained. We are searching his residence. He masterminded the operation with Sethi,” IG Dinesh M N told The Indian Express.
ACB Director General Navdeep Singh said Sanjay Sethi, a resident of Udaipur, had been running a racket whereby he would collude with top officials of the mining department and have them suspend mining operations. He would then get in touch with mine owners or operators and demand bribes from them to get the mining operations resumed, all in collusion with officials of the mining department.
The ACB had recently been tipped off about Sethi allegedly mediating the resumption of a closed mine in Sawa, Chittorgarh, owned by Sher Khan.
On Wednesday, the ACB team raided the office of Shyam Singh, Khan’s CA, in Udaipur and recovered Rs 2.5 crore in cash. Singh and Sethi were immediately arrested and later Gehlot, too, was nabbed.
In another raid at the office of the Senior Mining Engineer in Bhilwara, Ameta and Rashid Khan, another employee of Khan’s, were arrested and Rs 2.36 lakh recovered.
The anti-corruption crackdown is expected to blunt the opposition Congress’s attack on Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje over the Lalit Modi controversy in the Assembly on Thursday.