CBI conducts searches in National Games fraud case

CBI officials arrive at the residence of Congress leader Bandhu Tirkey to conduct a search in Jharkhand National Games scam in Ranchi on May 26, 2022.

CBI officials arrive at the residence of Congress leader Bandhu Tirkey to conduct a search in Jharkhand National Games scam in Ranchi on May 26, 2022. | Photo Credit: PTI

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Thursday searched multiple locations in Jharkhand, Bihar and Delhi in connection with alleged irregularities in the procurements for the 34 th National Games held in Ranchi in February 2011, prompting the ruling alliance government led by the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) to term it an “act to terrorise and intimidate the government”.

The development came a day after the Election Commission announced byelections on June 23 for 10 parliamentary and Assembly constituencies in six States, including Jharkhand, where the Mandar Assembly seat fell vacant as the then Congress legislator Bandhu Tirkey was disqualified last month after being sentenced to three years’ imprisonment in a corruption case.

“Of late, raids by the Central government agencies in Jharkhand on one pretext or other are being done to terrorise the democratically elected government. Raids have been conducted in cases in which the CBI even had submitted closure reports”, said senior JMM leader and party spokesperson Supriyo Bhattacharya.

16 premises

Among the 16 premises covered by the CBI was that of Mr. Tirkey, a former State Sports Minister, who alleged that such actions were taken whenever there were polls in the State. He accused the BJP of attempting to intimidate members of the other parties, particularly in Jharkhand, who opposed its flawed policies. He said the CBI should reveal the findings of the searches.

According to the CBI, the searches were conducted in Ranchi, Dhanbad, Bokaro, Godda and Dumka in Jharhand, Bihar’s Patna and Delhi.

Following a Jharkhand High Court directive on April 11, the agency took over the case against former MP R. K. Anand, who was the then working chairman of the National Games Organising Committee (NGOC); P. C. Mishra, then director (sports) in the State government; S. M. Hashmi, then NGOC organising secretary; and Madhukant Pathak, then treasurer of the Jharkhand Olympic Association.

The probe was earlier carried out by the Jharkhand Vigilance Bureau. “It was alleged that large-scale irregularities were committed in the purchase of sports items, equipment and allied services,” said the CBI.

Searches by ED

Earlier this month, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) had conducted searches in Jharkhand and arrested State Mining Secretary Pooja Singhal and a chartered accountant on money laundering charge in connection with about 16 cases linked to MGNREGA funds fraud. Since then, the agency has questioned several State government officials as part of the probe.

Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren, against whom a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) petition has been filed alleging various irregularities, including in the grant of a mining lease, has been served a notice by the Election Commission over an office-of-profit charge related to the said allotment of the mining lease. He had denied the allegations.

Earlier, Mr. Soren had drawn parallels between Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the Central government’s “use of agencies to destabilise a democratically elected government”. The Jharkhand State Congress in-charge, Avinash Pande, too had made the same allegation against the BJP.

Noted social activist from Jharkhand Dayamani Barla said “these raids by the Central agencies in Jharkhand largely appear to weaken the alliance partners of the government. The Central agencies are being used as tools to weaken the present government”. “We also want corruption exposed but it should not smack of fabricated and targeted action”, she added.

However, a senior State BJP leader, requesting anonymity, told The Hindu over phone on Thursday: “These raids by the Central investigative agencies only show how corruption is deeply rooted in Jharkhand. Our party had earlier warned the State government about the level of corruption in the government...,”

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Printable version | Jun 3, 2022 2:00:16 am |