Posts Tagged ‘RTI’
If you are the chief minister of a State and the Nature’s wrath destroys the crops and the farmers commit suicide, the illegally stored explosives burst killing over a hundred and injuring scores of others, the law and order situation takes a nosedive, the contract-hired teachers agitate and the health services are in a mess, more particularly in the rural areas, what would you do? Go on a foreign tour with your wife and some trusted bureaucrats in the name of soliciting foreign investments.
Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan learnt this mantra soon after assuming office ten years ago. He has since been periodically visiting various countries, all the time claiming to woo investors. Even if one per cent of the assurances and promises he claimed to have received, the face of this BIMARU Madhya Pradesh would have by now been glowing with red hue.
Recently he returned from nine-day jaunt to Japan and South Korea with 23 investment promises. Not long ago he had been to Italy, the Netherlands and Germany at the head of a large brigade comprising (then) industries minister Kailash Vijayvargiya (who now has divined that actor Shah Rukh Khan’s body is in India but his soul is in Pakistan), a contingent of State government officials and a platoon of the State’s industrialists.
If, as the cliché goes, Chouhan’s wishes were horses, Madhya Pradesh would have by now a Rs 20,000-crore aviation city for repair and maintenance of the aircraft, a world university, a world class golf course, and would have become a pioneering State in power, textile, food processing, information technology and bio-fuel sectors with investments from Italy, the Netherlands and Germany alone. One of the first tasks of Chouhan on becoming the chief minister was to invite Britain’s biggest Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT), with assets worth £8 billion (nearly Rs 75,000 crore), to begin its operations in Madhya Pradesh.
In February this year when the heat of the Vyapam scam had become a bit too much for Chouhan to endure (in spite of the illicit help provided by Assembly Speaker Sita Sharan Sharma), Chouhan had pushed off to the US with his wife and coterie. The information obtained by Ajay Dube through RTI application revealed that Chouhan had spent close to Rs 3 crore on his five-day US trip, nearly Rs 2 lakh on gifts alone.
Congress leader K K Mishra has alleged that Chouhan may also be using his frequent foreign trips to stash in foreign banks his ill-gotten money.
The CBI, entrusted with the task of solving the Shehla Masood murder case, has woven a web around itself; it will be some time before it can be seen coming out of it, if it can really come out of it. At present, the agency is investigating the allegation of bribery against its investigating team. The allegation was levelled by Sabah Farooqui who was an aide of interior designer Zahida Parvez, considered by the CBI till some time back as the main culprit; the CBI officers had been claiming that she had confessed her crime with full operational details. Both Zahida and Sabah are in judicial custody and lodged in an Indore jail.
Shehla Masood, in her late thirties, was found shot dead in her car around 11 in the morning of August 16 last year. A vibrant RTI activist and supporter of Anna Hazare’s campaign against corruption, she was galvanised by the news of Hazare’s arrest in Delhi that morning and had planned, along with fellow RTI activists, a signature campaign at the Boat Club at 2 pm in support of Anna Hazare.
Four days later the case was entrusted to the CBI for investigation.
Zahida has recorded her statement under Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure in which she was said to have denied any role in the murder of Shehla Masood. Sabah has not yet made up her mind about recording her statement. However, Zahida and Sabah had “told” the media persons that Dhruv Narayan Singh was the mastermind behind Shehla’s murder. Singh is a BJP MLA and was chairman of the Madhya Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (MPTDC) till May last year. The CBI has grilled him and searched his residences a number of times and also conducted a polygraph test on him. Singh was also a vice-president of the State BJP and was removed from that post after the CBI started questioning him in connection with the Shehla Masood murder case.
The CBI has made a big issue of the “intimate relations” between Dhruv
Narayan Singh and Zahida Parvez which they have not denied. Beyond that, the CBI does not have found any evidence to link Singh with the crime — at least so far.
Curiously, Zahida and Sabah did not name Singh in the court when they were produced for extension of their judicial remand. It was only when they were being taken back to the jail that media persons asked them about the culprit and they named Singh as the mastermind — first Zahida and then Sabah a day later. Sabah also added that the CBI officers had taken money from Singh and that was why they were not arresting him.
The CBI bosses in Delhi, it seems, were disturbed. They promptly despatched Assistant Superintendent T Rajah Balaji to Bhopal to ascertain the veracity of Sabah’s allegation and if there really is substantial evidence against Dhruv Narayan Singh and the investigators were not arresting him for monetary considerations.