Mohali shamlat land scam: ED raids 14 properties of revenue officials, property dealers
The enforcement directorate (ED raided 14 properties belonging to Punjab revenue officials and property dealers in Chandigarh, Mohali, Hoshiarpur and Ludhiana in connection with the Mohali shamlat land scam
The enforcement directorate (ED raided 14 properties belonging to Punjab revenue officials and property dealers in Chandigarh, Mohali, Hoshiarpur and Ludhiana in connection with the Mohali shamlat land scam. The sleuths of the central agency seized some documents during search of the premises, it is learnt.
In November 2020, Punjab vigilance bureau (VB) had booked 11 people, including then naib tehsildar Varinderpal Singh Dhoot, then kanungo Rughubir Singh, patwari Iqbal Singh, namabrdar Gurnam Singh and property dealer Sham Lal and others, for allegedly usurping a village common land Seonk village of Majri block in Mohali district. Prime accused Dhoot and Sham Lal were also arrested in November last year.
The case dates back to 2017 when Dhoot was posted as the naib tehsildar in Majri. He allegedly sold off 99 acres of shamlat land in Seonk village in connivance with his junior revenue officials and private individuals fraudulently, leading to losses to the government exchequer in crores of rupees. According to the FIR, the accused prepared forged land documents and got the village common land registered in the name of people known to them in lieu of hefty amount of money. Later, the land was sold in plots at high rates.
On Tuesday, ED searched Dhoot’s properties in Hoshiarpur and Chandigarh, besides those belonging to other accused in Mohali and Ludhiana. The ED had registered Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR) against the accused revenue officials and private persons under the Prevention to Money Laundering Act (PMLA) at its Jalandhar office in March this year.
A vigilance bureau official on condition of anonymity said Dhoot was close to a Hoshiarpur-based influential Congress politician and the two once shared a house in Sector 8, Chandigarh.
In May this year, Punjab vigilance bureau again booked Dhoot and property dealer Sham Lal, along with other nine accused, for the manipulation of revenue records during the process of division and mutation of Majrian village in Majri tehsil of Mohali district. He allegedly transferred ownership of ‘khewat’ number to known beneficiaries to make huge profits illegally through power of attorney.
DA inquiry against Dhoot still on
Punjab vigilance bureau is yet to complete its reinvestigation launched in February this year into the allegations of disproportionate assets against Dhoot. The directions for reinvestigation came after new facts emerged in the corruption case against him. In November last year, HT had reported that Dhoot faced another case of disproportionate assets which was pending with the vigilance headquarters, after the Jalandhar VB “watered down” the investigation and recommended departmental action.
The agency had detected several monetary transactions among builders, developers and Dhoot, besides investments in two prime marriage palaces in Hoshiarpur district. The vigilance is also probing the source of funds for Dhoot’s house in Sector 8, Chandigarh.
When contacted, vigilance bureau officer Daljinder Singh Dhillon confirmed that the inquiry was not yet complete as the information is being verified.