Not just well known politicians and representatives of corporate houses under probe by CBI, owners of several lesser known entities too had easy and frequent access to agency director Ranjit Sinha’s residence, a scrutiny of visitors logbooks shows.
They seem to have moved freely in and out of Sinha’s 2, Janpath home — some visiting him more than 100 times in a year and several times in a day, and some who seem to have been always accompanied by a “plus 1”.
The Indian Express on Thursday reported that besides Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (ADAG) officials, several other corporate representatives visited Sinha frequently. Among them were Sunil Bajaj of Essar Group and Anil Bhalla of Abhey Oswal Group, both of whom seem to have come to the house on at least 40 occasions each in the 15 months between May 2013 and August 2014.
Essar is under CBI probe for its alleged role in the 2G spectrum scam. Bhalla is a close associate of company promoter Abhey Kumar Oswal.
Bajaj did not respond to phone calls and text messages from The Indian Express. Bhalla’s phone was not reachable all through Thursday evening.
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But several not-so-recognisable names stand out in the registers. One Shiv Pal visited Sinha’s residence on 120 occasions in this period. On 25 of these occasions he has been logged as “Shiv Pal + 1”. When contacted, Pal told The Indian Express, “I know him (the CBI director) for the past 30 years. His family is very close to me. We both are from Bihar, so sometimes, when some bureaucrats or politicians visited Delhi, we used to go together.” Pal said he owned petrol pumps in Delhi.
A more frequent visitor than Shiv Pal was one Shiv Babu, who made 175 visits in the period under scrutiny. Shiv Babu’s identity could not be independently verified, but among the several cars he seemed to have travelled in, the one he used the most frequently — DL 3CBL 3143 — is registered in the name of Valley Iron & Steel Co Ltd.
Despite repeated attempts The Indian Express could not get through to anyone at the registered address of the company.
One Mithilesh visited Sinha 225 times, and was often accompanied by a “plus 1”. When asked who Mithilesh was, Sinha described him as “a retired chief engineer and a friend”. Mithilesh himself did not respond to phone calls.
There are indications that several visitors knew each other well. According to the logbook, on January 30, 2014, Shiv Babu and Mithilesh entered Sinha’s residence at 1.12 pm and 1.40 pm respectively, and were followed, at 1.45 pm, by two others, Vinay Saigal and Sandeep Saigal. All four exited together at 3.35 pm.
Sandeep, Vinay and Mithilesh returned that evening — entering Sinha’s residence at 7.20 pm, 7.22 pm and 7.29 pm respectively, and leaving together at 8.26 pm.
Vinay Saigal runs an export firm and Sandeep Saigal is a Customs clearing house agent. Vinay’s name figures 83 times in the registers; Sandeep’s 95 times. On most occasions, the two men appear to have visited the CBI director together. The cellphones of both men were switched off from afternoon onwards on Thursday.
One S P Singh visited Sinha 58 times in the period under scrutiny, according to the logbook entries. He too, was frequently marked as having been accompanied by another person — “plus 1”.
On February 10, 2014, “S P Singh”, “Ashok (London)” and “Mr Singh” entered the house one after the other — at 9.09 pm, 9.10 pm and 9.15 pm respectively. They left together at 10.30 pm.
On February 13, “Ashok”, “V K Singh” and “S P Singh” entered between 9.35 pm and 9.40 pm, and left together at 10.20 pm.
Another frequent visitor was one “Dr Prasad”, who, as per the registers at the gate, appears to have called on Sinha 70 times. When contacted, however, Prasad said, “I never met Ranjit Sinha.”
He acknowledged, though, that two cars — DL 5CH 2345 and DL 3FA 9999 — whose entries were logged at Sinha’s gate, belonged to him. Prasad runs an IT firm in Hyderabad.
Pravesh Jain, promoter of Paras Dyes and Chemicals, visited the house on 75 occasions. He said, “I know Sinha since 1982. I always visit him for 10 or 15 minutes for a cup of tea or coffee. I know him, and I know his predecessors U S Misra and D R Karthikeyan as well. But you will never find me in any of his formal functions. I keep my distance.”
Another individual who paid 75 visits to Sinha’s residence, according to the logs, is “Laxminarayan”.
One “Gagan” seemed to have visited Sinha twice as frequently as Jain and Laxminarayan — there are 150 entries mentioning him in the registers. Gagan seemed to have come in cars registered all over India. The Indian Express was not able to independently verify his identity.
Some of these visitors seemed to have enjoyed the privilege of entering without their arrivals being logged. An entry dated May 4, 2013 in the register, translated from the Hindi, reads, “Mithileshji, Shailendraji and Shivji should be allowed without entry, and should not be stopped at the gate. Their arrival should be intimated to the kitchen. By the order of Madamji”.