The Himachal Pradesh government on Wednesday decided to withdraw all “politically motivated cases” filed by the previous Congress government, out of which five are related to the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA), previously headed by three-time BJP MP Anurag Thakur. The decision was taken at a Cabinet meeting presided over by Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur, a government spokesperson told The Indian Express.
The HPCA cases had sparked a major controversy during the Congress regime and had led to a confrontation between two former Chief Ministers — Virbhadra Singh and Prem Kumar Dhumal, besides Dhumal’s son and Hamirpur MP, Anurag Thakur.
After returning to power, the Congress government had ordered the state Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau to hold an inquiry into the HPCA affairs and grant of land leases to the cricket body at Dharamshala for a cricket stadium and other properties. The first FIR was registered against HPCA in August 2013 alleging cheating, fraud and misappropriation of funds.
Eighteen people, including HPCA chief Anurag Thakur, Prem Kumar Dhumal, functionaries of the HPCA, and eight serving and retired bureaucrats were named in the FIR. There were two more FIRs lodged later against the HPCA in the same year.
The charge was that HPCA had allegedly illegally converted a registered society into a company. The government led by Prem Kumar Dhumal had allotted land for construction of the cricket stadium, the Pavilion — a luxury resort, and also got some government residential quarters belonging to the sports department demolished to give more land to the HPCA at Dharamshala.
In October 2013, the state Cabinet also took a decision to cancel the lease for the cricket stadium, and ordered the takeover of the property — a move later set aside by the High Court on the basis of a petition filed by the HPCA alleging political vendetta.
Welcoming the decision, HPCA spokesman Sanjay Sharma said: “There were five FIRs lodged against the cricket body and all were basically targeted to book Anurag Thakur, Prem Kumar Dhumal, office-bearers of the HPCA and some government officers. These were clear acts of political vendetta.”
Leader of the Congress Legislature Party Mukesh Agnihotri said: “We will discuss the issue with the party MLAs and former CM Virbhadra Singh. We will react appropriately in the House.”