ACB raids properties owned by Cong legislator in B’luru
The Karnataka anti-corruption bureau (ACB) on Tuesday raided properties associated with former minister and Congress legislator from Chamarajpet BZ Zameer Ahmed Khan in Bengaluru.
According to people aware of the developments, the raids were in connection to evidence unearthed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) searches on the former minister in July last year in connection with a disproportionate assets case.
Police officials were seen keeping guard outside Khan’s palatial home near Bengaluru Cantonment and at least four other locations, including his guest house in Sadashivanagar, one of the most upscale localities in the India’s IT capital.
Supporters of the leader were seen protesting outside his home and in front of a district court. One person tried to immolate himself to protest the raids, which they alleged were being done at the behest of the BJP.
Siddaramaiah, the leader of the opposition and Congress MLA, on Tuesday said he did not know anything about the raids but alleged that the searches were an attempt to deflect attention away from the police sub-inspector (PSI) recruitment scam.
“Reports indicate the involvement of ministers & son of a former CM in PSI scam. The ACB raid on @BZZameerAhmedK’s house & office is to divert the attention of public from PSI scam. I condemn such politically motivated ACB raids,” Siddaramaiah wrote on his Twitter handle. “All I know is that the ACB comes directly under the control of the chief minister, and they are answerable only to him.”
Khan is a close confidant of Siddaramaiah and has also offered his assembly constituency for the latter to contest in the 2023 assembly election.
Khan had also defied Congress state unit president DK Shivakumar in continuing to call Siddaramaiah as the “next CM” of Karnataka, which had fuelled the rift between the two top leaders of the party in the state ahead of the assembly elections.
In July last year, Khan’s premises were raided by the ED to get details on his home and its costs and was part of the ₹4,000 crore IMA scandal, HT reported at the time.
On Tuesday’s raids, chief minister Basvaaraj Bommai said searches were based on information and evidence against the former minister. “The ACB works on the basis of information and evidence. The raid has happened in the backdrop of a high court order for probing the pending cases,” Bommai said.
“Causing obstruction to discharge the duty and giving the raid a political colour is a common feature. It has become a Congress slogan. They will speak about everything else except the case. There will not be any obstruction for the officials to discharge their duties,” Bommai said.
Shakeel Ahmed Khan, Zameer’s brother, condemned the raids and termed it as “politically motivated to tarnish his image in a deliberate move of political vendetta”. He said the ACB officials took all papers related to the house, income tax returns and other documents which were the same that the ED had sought almost exactly a year ago.
“They wanted to take all documents for clarification like house papers, IT returns for a few years... There was no questioning as such,” Shakeel said.
Another person from the government, aware of the developments, said the raids were an extension to the ED raids last year as the central agency had shared information of their findings with the ACB. “They have shared some information on income beyond known sources of income,” the person said requesting anonymity.
The person cited above said Zameer had badmouthed the ACB and its top bosses recently which may have also added to the action.
Interestingly, the head of the ACB is the same official that the Karnataka high court referred to on Monday. Justice HP Sandesh made an oral observation during the hearing of a corruption charge of another government official which led to the arrest of the former Bengaluru Urban DC on Monday.
The official said the HC judge was referring to was on the investigations being carried out by Karnataka’s ACB in a case involving deputy commissioner, Bengaluru (urban).
“Your ADGP is so powerful… Some person spoken to one of our high court judges. The judge came and sat with me, and he says, giving an example of transferring one of the judge to some other district…I will not hesitate to mention the name of the judge also (sic),” the judge said, HT reported.
The searches by ED last July were linked to the IMA scandal, which pertains to a ₹4,000 crore scam collected by IMA Group from over 100,000 gullible investors in the name of providing attractive returns on investment that were compliant with Shariah laws.
On April 27, the CBI filed a supplementary charge sheet against former Karnataka minister R Roshan Baig in connection with the IMA Ponzi scam case. The CBI named the then MD of IMA Group, Mohammed Mansoor Khan, the company, Baig’s company Daanish Publications, and others in the charge sheet.
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