Wednesday, May 29, 2024

ED issues fresh summons to Uttarakhand Congress leader Harak Singh Rawat


Dehradun: Congress leader and former Uttarakhand cabinet minister Harak Singh Rawat has been issued fresh summons by the Enforcement Directorate for questioning in a money laundering case investigation on April 2, official sources said on Wednesday.

Rawat was earlier asked to depose before the central agency here on February 29 but he sought a deferment of the notice, citing some work.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) raided the premises of Rawat and others on February 7 in connection with the case.

His daughter-in-law and former Congress leader Anukriti Gusain was also summoned earlier by the agency in this case but she too did not depose. Gusain quit the Congress earlier this month.

The sources said Rawat has been asked to depose on April 2 at the ED office in Dehradun.

The central agency earlier said it seized Indian and foreign currency worth about Rs 1.20 crore, gold and “voluminous” documents during the searches.

However, an official statement issued by it did not specify what was recovered from where.

The ED said its probe is against Birendra Singh Kandari, a “close associate” of Rawat, Indian Forest Service (IFoS) officer and former DFO Kishan Chand and former forest range officer Brij Bihari Sharma.

Rawat, 63, is a former forest minister of the state who quit the BJP ahead of the 2022 Uttarakhand assembly polls and joined the Congress.

The Supreme Court recently pulled up Rawat and Kishan Chand, observing that the “public trust doctrine” was thrown into the waste bin as they allowed illegal construction and felling of trees in the Corbett Tiger Reserve (CTR).

The ED said its investigation against these people stems from two different FIRs registered in the state.

The first is based on a Uttarakhand Police FIR against Kandari and others.

Kandari, a close associate of Rawat, and Narendra Kumar Walia hatched a “criminal conspiracy” with Rawat and got registered two powers of attorney for a land for which a court had cancelled the sale deed, the agency alleged.

They illegally sold this land to Rawat’s wife Deepti Rawat and one Laxmi Singh on which the Doon Institute of Medical Science, Dehradun, was constructed under the Shrimati Poorna Devi Memorial Trust, it said.

The second instance stems from an FIR registered by the vigilance department of the state government against Sharma, Chand and others under various sections of the IPC, Forest Conservation Act, Wild Life (Protection) Act and the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Kishan Chand, the then divisional forest officer (DFO), and Sharma, the forest ranger of that time, in a criminal conspiracy with other bureaucrats and Rawat, managed to publish a tender of a higher amount than the authorised financial powers and was not as per the rules and guidelines of the state government, the ED claimed.

They also “fabricated” documents and “misused” the funds under the head of Tiger Conservation Foundation and Campa head and caused a wrongful loss worth crores of rupees to the Uttarakhand government, it said. They are also alleged to have illegally cut more than 6,000 trees against an authorisation of 163 trees, the ED said.

Chand was suspended along with Sharma for alleged irregularities in the forest department. Chand was arrested in Delhi in December 2022, and in April 2023, he got conditional bail from the high court.

Cash worth around Rs 1.10 crore, foreign currency valued at Rs 10 lakh and 1.3 kgs of gold valued at about Rs 80 lakh were seized apart from some bank lockers, digital devices and voluminous documents pertaining to immovable properties, the ED said.


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