Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra’s Sky Light Hospitality is one of the seven private companies named in a money-laundering case registered by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with 18 land grab cases filed in Rajasthan. The firm had allegedly acquired 470 acres in Bikaner.
Refuting the charges, senior Congress spokesperson Shakeel Ahmad said: “There is no wrongdoing in Mr. Vadra’s land deals. The government is only indulging in a witch-hunt.”
The ED case pertains to about 1,372 bigha government land which was “illegally” allotted in 2006-07 in the name of farmers displaced due to land acquisition by the government for the Army’s Mahajan Field Firing Range, and then sold off. The government had acquired land in 34 villages for the firing range in 1982-83 and made provisions for the allotment of land to displaced people in other parts of Bikaner in 1992-96.
Those shown as owners in revenue records later disposed of the land to the accused companies. Mr. Vadra’s firm had acquired land in Kolayat and Gajner villages. It is alleged that the government land was transferred to individuals on forged documents in connivance with revenue officials.
In August 2014, the State police registered 18 cases alleging serious irregularities in the allotment and sale of the land. The police probe revealed that the alleged mastermind, Jay Prakash Bangarwa, connived with revenue officials to create fake transfer of ownerships. Fake papers were used to acquire the land meant for rehabilitation of displaced people. Most of the “illegally” acquired land was sold to accused companies in 2009.
Seven people, including Bangarwa and three revenue officials, were held for their alleged role in the cases.