The Central Bureau of Investigation on Saturday carried out searches at 20 locations including the residences of former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda in a case of alleged irregularities in acquisition of land in Gurgaon in which farmers were cheated to the tune of Rs 1,500 crore.
The search operation also covered the residential premises of UPSC member Chattar Singh who was then additional private secretary to Hooda, CBI sources said.
Besides Hooda's residence in Rohtak and Chandigarh, the premises of IAS officers -- Additional Transport Secretary Haryana, S S Dhillon, then director town and country planning, the then Principal Secretary of Hooda, M L Tayal, now retired -- were also searched in the operation spread across multiple cities, they said.
During the searches at Hooda's residence, the CBI has found "fund transaction details worth crores of rupees" which are being scrutinised by the agency.
The sources said the agency team also searched premises of ABW Infrastructure Limited, its founder Director Atul Bansal in Rajokri and his brother Amit Bansal in Gurgaon was also covered in the operation resulting in the recovery of 22 items of forensic importance.
The role of firms associated with the builder like Innovative Infra Developers, Flair Private Limited among others is also under the scanner of the agency.
"In an ongoing investigation, the CBI carried out searches at 20 locations in Rohtak, Gurgaon, Panchkula and Delhi in connection with alleged irregularities in the purchase of land from farmers in Gurgaon," CBI spokesperson R K Gaur said.
The agency had registered the case last year in September on allegations that private builders in conspiracy with unknown public servants of the Haryana government had purchased around 400 acres of land from farmers and land owners of village Manesar, Naurangpur and Lakhnoula, district Gurgaon at throw away prices, showing the threat of acquisition by the government, during the period of August 27, 2004 to August 24, 2007.
It was alleged that a loss of Rs 1,500 crore was caused to the land owners of village Manesar, Naurangpur and Lakhnoula of Gurgaon.
The premises of then chief town and country planner Dhare Singh, in Rohtak and Delhi, M S Chopra, the then officer on special duty to Hooda, Randhir Singh, also the then OSD, the office of town and country planning, Haryana government, Jaswant Singh, then district town planner, and the then deputy superintendent town planning department were also searched, the sources said.
Meanwhile, the former Haryana chief minister termed the CBI searches at his residences and other places as "political vendetta" unleashed by the BJP government against its opponents.
The senior Congress leader said the CBI searches "were not a court verdict against him" and that he will keep his side of the story at an appropriate platform.
"Let the government conduct investigations to its full satisfaction. I will fully cooperate in the investigations and not create any obstacle so that truth comes out before the people soon," the two-time former CM said in a statement.
Hitting out at the BJP-led Haryana government, Hooda said, "To cover its failures, they are adopting tactics to divert people's attention by trying to defame the Congress leadership."
"If Congress has seen good days, it has also passed through difficult days, but the party even in difficult days has bravely faced conspiracy of its opponents," he said.
"BJP should understand this. They cannot browbeat me and keep me down with such actions," the Congress leader added.
The raids were spread in Rohtak, Chandigarh, Gurgaon, New Delhi and Panchkula, they said.
It is alleged that initially the Haryana government had issued a notification under the Land Acquisition Act for acquiring land measuring about 912 acres for setting up an Industrial Model Township at villages Manesar, Naurangpur and Lakhnoula in Gurgaon.
After that, all the land had allegedly been grabbed from the land owners by private builders at meager rates showing the threat of Government acquisition, the CBI had said after registering the case.
It is also alleged that an order was then passed by the the competent authority i.e. the Director of Industries on August 24, 2007 releasing this land from the acquisition process in violation of the government policy, in favour of the builders, their companies and agents, instead of the original land owners.
The CBI has alleged in its FIR that in the said manner, land measuring about 400 acres whose market value at that time was above Rs four crore per acre approximately totalling about Rs 1,600 crore approximately was allegedly purchased by the private builders and others from the innocent land owners for only about Rs 100 crore.