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Rediff.com  » Business » Mystery shrouds Subrata Roy's movement to Delhi

Mystery shrouds Subrata Roy's movement to Delhi

March 04, 2014 09:02 IST

Mystery shrouds Subrata Roy's movement to Delhi

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Sharat Pradhan in Lucknow

Even as the Lucknow police claims to have taken Sahara India group chief Subrata Roy by road to Delhi on Monday afternoon at Kukrail picnic spot, where he was supposedly kept for two days after arrest.

The official announcement of his departure for Delhi came nearly two hours after he was quietly ushered out of the heavily guarded guest house, thereby arousing all kinds of suspicion.

No one knows how he was taken away; what vehicle was used and who all were with him for company. Doubts have also been raised about his actual stay at the guest house.

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Image: The Sahara group chairman Subrata Roy (C) is escorted by police to a court in the northern Indian city of Lucknow.
Photographs: Reuters

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The 65- year old high-profile Sahara boss was taken into custody on Friday in execution of a non-bailable warrant issued by the country’s apex court for repeated non-compliance of its order to appear before a special bench, hearing a petition moved by SEBI against Roy’s failure to refund some 20,000 crore (Rs 200 billion) rupees to investors.

From day one it was suspected that the current Samajwadi Party government was going out of its way to provide every possible help to Roy.

Roy had been camping in Lucknow after being restrained by the Supreme Court to leave the country.

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Image: Sahara Group Chairman Subrata Roy accompanied by his security leaves the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) headquarters in Mumbai.
Photographs: Danish Siddiqui/Reuters

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Even as the Lucknow police was bound by the Supreme Court directive to arrest Roy and produce him before the court on March 4, the cops left no stone unturned to give him a loose rope.

To begin with when Lucknow cops got down to executing the Supreme Court’s non-bailable warrant on Thursday, they failed to locate him even after a day-long “search” at his opulent 200-acre private residential estate - Sahara Shahar - in the state capital’s posh Gomti Nagar .

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Image: Sahara Group Chairman Subrata Roy.
Photographs: Courtesy, Sahara Group

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The following day too a police team moved into the same estate, only to emerge with the elusive Roy well after 5 p.m. when he was allowed to be driven in his plush personal motorcade to the court of chief judicial magistrate.

Sure enough everyone knew that jail rules do not permit entry of a new inmate after 5 pm, therefore the state found justification in lodging Roy in the government’s own forest guest house where he was accorded VVIP treatment.

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Image: Sahara Group Chairman Subrata Roy.
Photographs: Courtesy, Sahara Group

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The forest picnic spot - with a crocodile park - which is a major attraction for local citizens and tourists, was shut to all and sundry.

Sahara’s private security virtually took over the entire place and only vehicles cleared by them were allowed to zoom in and out of the place for nearly 72 hours.

Evidently, the cops on duty were told to ensure that Roy’s personal visitors did not have any difficulty in getting access to him.

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Image: Sahara Group Chairman Subrata Roy gestures as he speaks during a news conference in Kolkata.
Photographs: Rupak De Chowdhuri/Reuters

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Even as cops and the Sahara security personnel made it a point to impress that the multi-billion company’s supremo was holed up in the guest house, speculation was rife that he was actually whisked away to his luxurious home the very night he was officially brought to the guest house.

The movement of vehicles with visitors was carried on only to maintain a facade.

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Image: (From L to R) UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, his father and Samajwadi chief Mulayam Singh, and Sahara Group Chairman Subrata Roy.
Photographs: Courtesy, Sahara Group.

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The manner in which Roy was taken out of the guest house on Monday afternoon was also rather fishy.

The cops really took the media for a ride by impressing upon them that Roy would be moved out of the guest house and ferried to Delhi by car at 3 p.m.

While TV cameras and the entire media waited anxiously outside the locked main gate, Roy was stated to have been carted away much earlier at 1.30 pm only.

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Image: Sahara Group Chairman Subrata Roy listens to a question during a news conference in Mumbai.
Photographs: Danish Siddiqui/Reuters

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It was well after three when some mediapersons inquired from superintendent of police Habibul Hasan that they were told,” Saharashree left this place with the police team at 1.30 only.” He also confirmed that Roy was on his way to Delhi “by road.”

What has surprised many was the reason for taking Roy on a 500-km road ride to Delhi. “Subrata Roy would not even undertake a 15- km ride from his residence to the Lucknow airport for which he always preferred his private helicopter; then why would be choose to be driven down all the way from Lucknow to Delhi,” asked a former Sahara employee, who had known his flamboyant boss closely.

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Image: Sahara Group Chairman Subrata Roy poses for a photograph after an interview with Reuters outside his company's office.
Photographs: Pawan Kumar/Reuters

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In fact, also while pleading for exemption from appearance before the Supreme Court last week, he has sought to reason out that even if he were to take a private plane to Delhi, the total time taken in the to and fro journey would be close to nine hours - and that it was not possible for him to leave his ailing 92- year old mother for such a long time.

Only the most gullible would believe that the road journey was undertaken on the insistence of the police, as it was no secret how the entire UP administration was eating out of Roy’s palm.

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Image: Sahara Group Chairman Subrata Roy gestures as he arrives at the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) headquarters in Mumbai.
Photographs: Danish Siddiqui/Reuters

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There have been umpteen occasions when law-offenders have been flown by the police by commercial flights.

What prompted the road journey therefore remains a mystery.


Image: Sahara Group Chairman Subrata Roy waves at his employees before they sing the Indian national anthem in the northern Indian city of Lucknow.
Photographs: Pawan Kumar/Reuters

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