Punjab Police chief Dinkar Gupta Monday ordered a probe into the allegations levelled by a church priest who has claimed that the Khanna police embezzled Rs 6.65 crore from the total money they claimed to have recovered from his house. The money, Father Anthony Madassery of Diocese of Jalandhar, said was proceeds of business transaction kept at his house.
Inspector General (Crime) P K Sinha will conduct the probe, as per an official statement from the office of the Director General of Police.
Khanna police claimed to have recovered Rs 9.66 crore in ‘hawala’ money from six men, including Father Anthony, Friday. However, the priest Sunday alleged that when the police raided his residence on Friday, Rs 16.65 crore was recovered and officials from the South Indian Bank, who were present there, had counted the money using a machine as it was to be deposited in the bank.
Khanna police have refuted the allegations with senior superintendent of police (SSP) Dhruv Dahiya Monday saying that he is “open to any kind of probe” and that “every single paisa was counted and packed in front of the Income Tax officials who were kept in loop at every step”.
A 2012-batch IPS officer, Dahiya also asked why Father Anthony and five others, whose statements were also recorded by the I-T officials before they took possession of the cash, did not complain at that time and came up with allegations two days later.
“I am open to any kind of probe against me. Till now, there has not been a single case of corruption or allegation against me in my entire career. If such a huge amount – Rs 6.65 crore – was missing, why did the priest and his accomplices not tell this to the I-T officials when their statements were being recorded. They could have complained against us (police) saying that Rs 6.65 crore was missing but they came up with this allegation two days later,” the SSP said.
The senior police official added that priests and his accomplices were giving “such statements now because they are rattled after recovery of such huge amount in black money”. “Rs 6.65 crore is not a small amount. Each and every paisa recovered on Friday was counted in front of I-T officials. The cash was then packed in boxes in front of I-T officials. We kept them in loop at every step,” he said, adding “Father Anthony and others had no documents to show from where the cash came”.
On Friday, Khanna police had claimed recovery of “nine crore sixty-six lakh sixty one thousand and seven hundred rupees” from the priest and his five accomplices and the case was handed over to the I-T and Enforcement Directorate (ED). The police claimed it was “black money” and six persons were running “hawala racket”.
On Sunday, the priest, at a press conference in Jalandhar, claimed that police showed recovery of Rs 9.66 crore only whereas total amount recovered from him was Rs 16.65 crore. In a written statement to media, he claimed that police ‘misappropriated’ an amount of “Rs 6.65 crore”.
However, the numbers provided by Anthony also do not add up and the priest failed to answer where the remaining Rs 34 lakh went. The priest claimed that the recovered cash was “income of his company which provides books, stationery, uniforms etc in schools” and not “black money”.
Certain holes emerged in the police version too as while it claimed to have recovered the cash from three vehicles during check at GT Road Doraha Friday, sources said that Anthony was detained from his residence in Partappura of Jalandhar during a raid by Khanna police where the cash was recovered following which I-T officials were called there and counting was started.
Ludhiana Range DIG Ranbir Singh Khatra said that since versions from Khanna police and that from Church priest are contradictory, he wrote to Punjab Police headquarters in Chandigarh to get the matter probed by Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU). “Both sides are making contradictory claims so I have recommended an independent probe by FIU,” he told The Indian Express.
The officer behind the big cash recovery
A 2012-batch IPS officer, senior superintendent of police (SSP) Dhruv Dahiya is known in the police circles for not succumbing to political pressure. In December 2014, when he was posted as ACP (north) in Ludhiana city, he was transferred soon after he issued a challan to a High Court judge for wrong parking. The challan was cancelled later. Then in 2015, when he was posted as ASP (Mukerian), he twice impounded the buses owned by then deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal’s company Orbit. He took over as Khanna SSP in July last year and since then some “unaccounted cash and other recoveries” claimed by Khanna police includes Rs 62.30 lakh cash on March 20, Rs 55 lakh cash on January 2, and Rs 99.82 lakh cash in three cases last year apart from 14-kg silver and 11 kg gold in different cases.