Allegations being levelled against in him in connection with a year-and-half old murder case
Barely a week after taking charge, newly inducted Union Minister of State for Rural Development Lal Chand Kataria has landed in trouble with allegations being levelled against him in connection with a year-and-half-old murder case. The matter has reached the Supreme Court and the victim’s son has pleaded for directions for a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) inquiry.
Mr. Kataria, who represents the Jaipur Rural constituency in the Lok Sabha, has been accused of protecting the accused in the murder of a college owner, Bansidhar Jat.
Jat was killed in the early hours on June 4 last when he was sleeping in a building under construction at the Riddhi Siddhi Vinayak College in Machwa village on the outskirts of Jaipur.
Kataria’s kin accused
Mr. Jat’s son, Rajendra Chaudhary, has claimed that one of the accused is Mr. Kataria’s relative and alleged that he is extending political patronage to the culprits, many of whom are Youth Congress activists. No arrests have been made in the case so far despite the Rajasthan High Court directing the police to expedite the investigation and work on the clues provided by the victim’s family. Mr. Kataria, as an activist in the Jat community, runs several educational institutions in Jaipur under the banner of the Alankar Society of High Education.
Mr. Chaudhary has alleged that the Minister had business rivalry with his father and the police were delaying the probe under his pressure.
On a special leave petition moved by Mr. Chaudhary, the Supreme Court earlier this week issued notice to the Rajasthan government, the CBI, Mr. Kataria and nine others asking why the murder case should not be transferred to the CBI. Mr. Kataria, who came here to a rousing welcome after assuming office in New Delhi over the weekend, said at a press conference that the charges against him were “politically motivated” and a CID investigation had already found that he had no connection with the case. “These accusations have been renewed after I took over as a Union Minister. This itself goes to prove that they have no basis.”
However, 23-year-old Mr. Chaudhary told The Hindu here on Saturday that he had been claiming Mr. Kataria’s involvement ever since his father’s murder. “My father was in fact Mr. Kataria’s mentor. If the police honestly probe the case, they will find enough evidence related to the background and the motive,” he said.
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot’s defence of Mr. Kataria has also left the political observers here baffled. Mr. Gehlot told reporters at the Pradesh Congress Committee headquarters here that Mr. Kataria had been falsely named as an accused and there was “no strength” in the charges levelled against him. The Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has lashed out at the attempts of the Congress to shield Mr. Kataria and claimed that it formed part of the ruling party’s strategy to enhance his stature among Jat leaders. The BJP took exception to Mr. Gehlot defending Mr. Kataria even though the matter was sub judice.