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Chautala?s crores

ASSETS WORTH Rs 1,467 crore and counting. This, says the CBI, is the estimated wealth Om Prakash Chautala and his family amassed between July 1999 and March 2005 when the Indian National Lok Dal chief was the Haryana chief minister.

india Updated: May 05, 2006 14:31 IST

ASSETS WORTH Rs 1,467 crore and counting. This, says the CBI, is the estimated wealth Om Prakash Chautala and his family amassed between July 1999 and March 2005 when the Indian National Lok Dal chief was the Haryana chief minister.

On Thursday, the investigating agency raided 25 premises, mostly residential, owned by Chautala, sons Ajay and Abhay, family members and aides. The raids across six states and union territories started at 6 a.m. and continued till late evening.

CBI spokesperson G. Mohanty said the assets were “phenomenal”. The CBI’s FIR put the figure at Rs 1,467 crore. Sources said this was just the proverbial tip of the iceberg.

“During the searches, the CBI has found evidence of possession of extensive movable assets and documents regarding immovable assets,” said Mohanty. “The phenomenal extent of properties seemingly accumulated by the accused persons would require extensive and in-depth investigations by the CBI.”

Chautala said the raids were part of political vendetta by the ruling Congress government in Haryana against him and his
family members.

Speaking to HT over the phone from Seattle in the US (where he is recuperating from a limb surgery), he said, “Apni jhenp mitane ke liye hamare virodhi aise prayas karte rahte hain.” The surgery on his other leg is scheduled for next week.  The

CBI said the wealth was amassed when Chautala and some of his family members were public servants. The investigating agency also found 17 arms licences at a farmhouse in Gadaipur village in Delhi. A case under the Arms Act might be brought against him.

Five banks accounts belonging to the family (deposits: Rs 1.34 crore) were frozen. Rs 13 lakh was recovered in cash from one of the properties.

The CBI also raided several places in Delhi, including Chautala’s residence at Lodhi Estate and Ajay’s house at Janpath. The CBI had registered a case on April 3, alleging that the Chautalas’ wealth was disproportionate to their known sources of income.

It had raided some premises owned by Chautala on April 7, 2005 in connection with the investigation into the Junior Basic Trained (JBT) teachers’ recruitment scam. The investigation had been ordered by the Supreme Court. In those raids, the CBI had recovered documents which pointed at the family’s huge wealth.

The CBI had informed the Haryana government about the development. As the agency did not have the jurisdiction to act on this information suo motu, it asked the state government for the future course of action. After a request by the Haryana government, the central government had issued a notification for CBI investigation into the case.

The FIR is based on a ‘memorandum of chargesheet’ prepared by Haryana Congress leader Shamsher Singh Surjewala and others in the run-up to the state assembly elections in mid 2005. The chargesheet’ had alleged that in 1977, before Devi Lal came to power in Haryana, the family’s total worth comprised of 32 acres of agricultural land in Teja Khera village in Sirsa.

In the 123-page ‘chargesheet’, the Congress had also alleged that Chautala’s party had misappropriated funds collected in the name of deposed Fiji prime minister Mahendra Chaudhary.  Recently, Abhay, a former MLA, was named in a murder case in Sirsa