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CBI raids Radia, Raja's friends; claims breakthough

Last updated on: December 15, 2010 23:05 IST

CBI raids Radia, Raja's friends; claims breakthough

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Onkar Singh in New Delhi
In a crackdown as part of the 2G spectrum scam probe, the Central Bureau of Investigation on Wednesday searched 34 offices and residences of corporate lobbyist Niira Radia, former Telecom Regulatory Authority of India chairman Pradip Baijal, siblings of ex-Telecom Minister A Raja and an NGO linked to Dravida Munnettra Kazhagam member of Parliament Kanimozhi.

A CBI official claimed that some "incriminating documents" were recovered during the raids at 27 places in Tamil Nadu and seven places in Delhi and Noida. The premises of alleged hawala dealers Mahesh Jain and Alok Jain alias Bobby, who are brothers, were also raided.

An NGO in which Chief Minister M Karunanidhi's daughter and Member of Parliament Kanimozhi is a director and the office of an auditor of former telecom minister A Raja were searched on Wednesday as part of the CBI's raids being carried out across Tamil Nadu in connection with the 2G spectrum scam.

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Image: Niira Radia's office in Gopal Das Bhavan on Barakhmba Road in New Delhi was among the 34 places raided by the CBI
Photographs: Gautam Chaman
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The CBI also raided Raja's residence at his native Velur village at Perambalur, his erstwhile Lok Sabha constituency, official sources said. Besides Raja's residence, officials raided the premises of senior journalist and Associate Editor of Tamil magazine Nakkeran, Kamaraj, Raja's auditor Subramanyam in Chennai, Raja's siblings at Tiruchirapalli and other close aides in Chennai, Tiruchirappalli and Perambalur districts.

Kamaraj is known to be close to DMK circles. Tamil Maiyam, which describes itself as a registered Indian non-profit organisation, was also raided by the CBI. Kanimozhi is on the board of directors of Tamil Maiyam while Reverend Jegath Gasper Raj is the managing trustee. Kanimozhi declined to comment on the ongoing raids.

The organisation, which organises the annual cultural event Chennai Sangamam amidst much fanfare, claims to work with the main objectives of 'promoting Tamil art, literature and culture with special thrust on research, creative productions and publications.'

CBI officials also raided the residence of a Tamil TV channel reporter G L Narasimhan, believed to be close to Raja, at Tiruchirappalli.

A team of CBI officials from Delhi have come down for the searches, being conducted a week after the raids at Raja's residence in Delhi and that of his aides in the national capital and Chennai.

The CBI on Wednesday carried out searches at the premises of Radia and Baijal in connection with the alleged Rs 22,000 crore 2G spectrum scam, a week after conducting raids at the residences of former telecom minister A Raja.

Source close to Niira Radia confirmed that the corporate lobbyist's office in Gopal Das Bhavan on Barakhmba Road in New Delhi was also raided by the investigating agency.

Nearly 150 sleuths of the investigating agency swooped down at 27 places in Tamil Nadu and seven in Delhi in the wee hours of Wednesday and began raiding the residences and offices of some auditors and accountants of Raja, besides the premises of Radia and Baijal, official sources said.


Image: Radia's office -- Vaishnavi Corporate Communications -- was among the first few places raided by the CBI
Photographs: Chaman Gautam
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Radia's office -- Vaishnavi Corporate Communications -- and her farm house in South Delhi were among the first premises searched by the CBI, the sources said, adding some of the persons who had been closely associated with the handling of accounts and funds of Raja were also being searched by the agency.

The residence of Baijal, who retired in 2006 after serving as TRAI chairman for nearly three years, was being also searched. He is currently working with Radia. The allegation against him was that as the chairman of the regulatory body, which recommends various policies to the government, he had helped some telecom firms.

A former IAS officer of 1966 batch, Baijal served as the first disinvestment secretary after the ministry was formed. These searches come exactly a week after the searches at the residence of Raja and his four close associates including his personal secretary R K Chandolia in connection with the scam.

Raja was forced to resign as minister on November 14 in the wake of the CAG's report that the rates at which 2G spectrum was allotted resulted in a possible loss to the exchequer to the tune of Rs 1.76 lakh crore.

Raids were also conducted at the residences of former telecom secretary Siddarth Behura, Chandolia, Member of Telecom Commission K Sridhar and Deputy Director General in the Department of Telecom A K Srivastava.

Raja has been maintaining that he was ready for questioning by the CBI any time. The CBI had registered a case on October 21, 2009 against unknown Department of Telecom officials, private persons and companies for allegedly causing a loss of Rs 22,000 crore to the exchequer.

The losses mentioned in the agency's FIR were based on the findings of Central Vigilance Commission which had referred the case to the CBI.

The CBI has earlier searched offices of the Wireless Planning Cell, the department responsible for allocating Spectrum, and the office of the deputy director general (Access Services) of the telecom ministry to probe the allegations of connivance of officials with private companies in the allocation of spectrum. It had also conducted searches in eight cities housing the headquarters of various telecom firms in connection with its probe into the scam.

Widening the probe in the 2G spectrum scam, the Enforcement Directorate on Wednesday joined CBI in conducting searches in connection with the case and visited the house of alleged hawala operator Mahesh Jain in Mumbai.

Official sources said a team of the ED visited the house of Jain in New Friends Colony area. They said the ED team may also visit some other locations where the CBI was conducting searches.

The CBI was carrying out raids in Tamil Nadu and Delhi. The sources said Jain's name had figured during investigations into the 2G scam and that the directorate has found that Mahesh and his brother Alok Jain alias Bobby had allegedly registered companies as fronts.

With inputs from PTI

Image: Mediapersons out Radia's Chhatarpur farmhouse in Delhi

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