A day after Uttar Pradesh Governor Ram Naik’s letter to Yogi Adityanath seeking action against a principal secretary in the Chief Minister’s Office following allegations of corruption by a businessman Abhishek Gupta went viral, the Lucknow Police Friday detained Gupta for questioning.
Though he was released hours later, police said a complaint was registered against him and that Gupta had put pressure on bureaucrats and claimed to know senior BJP leaders in a bid to get his work done. In a video released by Mritunjay Kumar, media advisor to the CM, Gupta is heard apologising for making “false claims” against Adityanath’s aide.
Gupta had sought Naik’s intervention on April 18 after alleging that Adiytanath’s principal secretary S P Goyal, an IAS officer, had demanded a bribe of Rs 25 lakh. Naik had forwarded the complaint to the CM seeking “appropriate action” on April 30. The letters went viral on social media Thursday.
Police said an FIR had been registered against Gupta Friday on charges of fraud at the Hazratganj police station and that he was detained for questioning from his house. According to Gupta’s complaint to Naik, Goyal had allegedly demanded Rs 25 lakh to provide land to expand a road that led to his petrol pump in Hardoi district.
Adityanath Friday sought a report about the situation from Chief Secretary Rajiv Kumar even as Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav demanded a CBI inquiry into the allegations.
“Whenever I receive a complaint or a suggestion, I forward it to the concerned minister. I have sent a letter. The government will take proper action on it,” said Naik, according to ANI.
The FIR against Gupta is based on a complaint by Bharat Dixit, the in-charge of the BJP state headquarters in Lucknow. “Recently, I got a call on the office landline and the caller, who identified himself as special secretary to CM, Shubhrant Shukla asked about Abhishek Gupta. Shukla told me that Gupta had called him and claimed to be from the office of Sunil Bansal, who is the party general secretary (organisation) in UP,” Dixit said.
“I informed him that there is no BJP worker or office staff named Abhishek Gupta. Shukla asked to lodge an FIR in the matter. I forgot to file it and Shukla reminded me of it again two days ago so I submitted a complaint to the police yesterday evening.” Shubhrant Shukla could not be contacted for comment.
SSP Lucknow Deepak Kumar said, “Dixit has given police a voice recording of the call Gupta made to Shukla. He was detained for questioning and to get his statement recorded. He has now been released.” He also said Gupta admitted that he took loan of Rs 1 crore to open a petrol pump and was paying installments to the tune of Rs 1 lakh every month.
“Abhishek has also given in writing that following the financial crisis, he used names of BJP leaders to influence senior officials,” Kumar said.
In the video released by Adityanath’s media advisor, Gupta is heard saying that he had sent his file to Goyal and also met him personally. Gupta also claimed that Goel made queries on his file twice to which he replied. A note was also sent to Goyal from the Hardoi district administration. Admitting to being frustrated with the financial crisis, Gupta said in the video: “Toh maine S P Goyal sir par aisa aaroop laga diya aur mujhe bahut hi is baat ka dukh hai. (Then I made allegations against S P Goyal sir and now I feel sorry about it).”
According to Gupta’s uncle Rudraksh Sinha, his nephew was being falsely implicated. “The police action is because he made allegations against senior officials of the UP government. He could not have made calls impersonating someone else,” he said. Gupta stays with his grandparents and completed his diploma in 2012 and has since been trying to start a business, he added.
“There is a big conspiracy in framing him in a false case. After he was picked up by police, we went to Ghazipur, Hazratganj and Indra Nagar police station but no one could give any information about him. We also went to CM’s residence but no one would listen to us,” said another relative Sharad Melhotra.
“He wants to start an automobile business and about four years ago he applied for a petrol pump. He also applied for a loan of Rs 1 crore, which was approved. He was eager to start the petrol pump and regularly visited government offices to complete formalities.”
According to Melhotra, the issue was a plot of government land in front of the proposed petrol pump. “Abhishek obtained no-objection certificates (NOC) from 31 departments but there was a problem with some government land in front of the land on which he wanted to open the petrol pump,” Melhotra said.
“The Hardoi district administration had advised him to exchange the gram sabha land with his land. Abhishek was ready to give a piece of his land in exchange and moved his file to senior government officials for approval,” he said.
In his report to Adityanath, Chief Secretary Rajiv Kumar stated that Gupta had requested to exchange land he owns with government land (Gram Samaj) on the Hardoi-Lucknow highway. The UP government spokesperson said: “The government that found land away from the highway would be of no public utility and that it would not be appropriate.”