The CBI on Saturday carried out raids at 24 premises linked to former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, his close aides and former and current bureaucrats of the state government in connection with an alleged land grabbing case in Manesar.
The raids were conducted in Rohtak, Gurgaon, Panchkula, Chandigarh and Delhi, and included Hooda’s residence and office. Hooda is facing a court case over land deals in Manesar, where farmers are alleged to have been cheated of Rs 1,500 crore.
During the searches at Hooda’s residence, CBI sources claimed to have found details of “fund transactions worth crores of rupees”. These transactions are being scrutinised by the agency.
Speaking to The Sunday Express, Hooda said he was in Delhi. Alleging “political vendetta”, he said, “there was nothing incriminating at my residences that they could have taken… I have got nothing to hide. They cannot pressurise me.” He said nobody from the CBI had contacted him during the raids.
The search operation also covered the residence of UPSC member Chattar Singh, who was then additional private secretary to Hooda, CBI sources said. Besides Hooda’s residences in Rohtak and Chandigarh, the premises of S S Dhillon, Haryana additional transport secretary and former director, town and country planning; M L Tayal, Hooda’s former principal secretary who is now retired; Dhare Singh, the then chief town and country planner; M S Chopra, who was Officer on Special Duty to Hooda; Randhir Singh, former OSD, town and country planning; and Jaswant Singh, former district town planner were also searched, said sources.
“It is sheer vendetta. Even when I have nothing to do with the case, I am being involved. I was never posted in the industries department when the acquisition and its release took place… Whether to acquire the land or release it is the industries department’s decision,” said Dhillon.
Raids were also carried out at the premises of ABW Infrastructure Limited, its founder director Atul Bansal in Rajokri, and his brother Amit Bansal’s premises in Gurgaon. CBI sources claimed to have recovered “22 items” from their premises which will be forensically examined.
The role of firms associated with builders like Innovative Infra Developers, Flair Private Limited among others is also under the scanner.
“The CBI has today conducted searches at around 24 places, including Rohtak, Gurgaon, Delhi, Chandigarh and Panchkula, at the residential & office premises of various persons in an ongoing investigation of a case relating to alleged irregularities in the purchase of land from farmers/ land owners of district Gurgaon (Haryana). The incriminating documents/ materials recovered during searches are being scrutinised,” said a CBI statement.
The case pertains to the alleged purchase of 400 acres of land from farmers in Gurgaon for Rs 100 crore when the actual worth (according to market rate) was Rs 1,600 crore. The purchase, according to the CBI, was made during August 2004-August 2007, under the “threat and false apprehension of acquisition of the land by the state government”.
The CBI said that the Haryana government initially issued notifications under various sections of the Land Acquisition Act for acquisition of land, measuring about 912 acres, for setting up an Industrial Model Township, which covered Manesar, Lakhnoula and Naurangpur villages. As a result, a large number of land owners allegedly sold their land at throwaway prices.
“It was further alleged that the land, about 400 acres, had been grabbed from the land owners by the private builders under the threat of acquisition at meagre rates. An order was also allegedly passed by the competent authority in government on August 24, 2007, releasing this land from the acquisition process in violation of the government policy and the licences/ CLU were issued to the private builders. An alleged loss of Rs 1500 crores (approx) was caused to the land owners of villages Manesar, Naurangpur and Lakhnoula of Gurgaon district,” said the CBI statement.
According to the CBI, it registered a case on September 15, 2015 against “unknown public servants of Haryana government and unknown private persons” alleging that certain private builders in conspiracy with some “public servants of Haryana government including important functionaries and others” had purchased around 400 acres of land from the farmers and land owners of villages Manesar, Naurangpur and Lakhnoula in Gurgaon district at throwaway prices.