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Mayavati lurches from case to raids

New Delhi/Lucknow, Oct. 8: CBI sleuths today searched two residences of former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayavati and 19 other places after a fresh disproportionate assets case was filed against the Bahujan Samaj Party leader.

This is the second case that the CBI registered against her after the Supreme Court ordered a thorough probe into irregularities in the Rs 175-crore Taj corridor project. The apex court had also directed the agency to look into the assets of officials involved in the controversy.

CBI director P.C. Sharma confirmed that 21 places, including Mayavati’s houses, were searched. “I would like to make it clear that the search warrants were taken from the court (Lucknow) under various provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code,” he said, adding that searches were conducted in Delhi, Lucknow and other parts of Uttar Pradesh.

The searches started early in the morning and continued till late evening. In Delhi, the sleuths landed at Mayavati’s Humayun Road residence and combed the place for five hours. Sources said besides documents, cash worth more than Rs 5 lakh was seized.

Mayavati, however, claimed at a news conference later that the seized money was meant to foot the medical bills of ailing BSP leader Kanshi Ram.

In Lucknow, her Lal Bahadur Shastri Marg residence was searched. The Lucknow residences of former Uttar Pradesh environment minister Naseemuddin Siddiqui, former environment principal secretary R.K. Sharma and former principal secretary to Mayavati P.L. Punia were also searched.

Mayavati and Siddiqui were not present when joint teams of CBI and income-tax officials swooped down on their Lucknow residences. Punia was in his Raj Bhavan Colony bungalow at the time of the raid and was questioned for nearly seven hours.

However, former state chief secretary D.S. Bagga — another accused in Taj corridor case — was not disturbed.

The CBI said so far it has found assets worth Rs 15 crore in the name of Mayavati and her close relatives. The searches are said to have yielded evidence on properties she is alleged to have purchased in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh over the last eight years — from April 1, 1995, to August 29, 2003. She had resigned as chief minister on August 26.

In the last eight years, the CBI claimed, Mayavati had disclosed her income as Rs 1.12 crore. But her bank balance in two accounts at Parliament Street and Moti Bagh amounted to Rs 2.51 crore. CBI officials alleged that her close relatives, including her father, mother, brother and sister-in-law, have stacked Rs 2.39 crore in several accounts. The CBI has traced a fixed deposit account worth Rs 74 lakh in the name of her brother Raj Kumar and his wife.

In the FIR on disproportionate assets, the CBI alleged that Mayavati purchased land in Lucknow during an auction in March 2003 for Rs 45.75 lakh. Although initially it was in the name of her party, she later got it transferred in her name on August 8. The BSP leader is also alleged to have purchased another piece of land (about 5.15 hectares) in Gyaspur in Bulandshahr for Rs 33 lakh in the name of her brother Annad Kumar.

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