The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Scam letter hits Bhujbal

Mumbai, Dec. 12: The politician played the sleuth again today when an Opposition leader produced a letter in the Maharashtra Assembly suggesting deputy chief minister Chhagan Bhujbal had played a role in the stamp paper scam.

Claimed to have been written by police inspector Dilip Kamath, himself in jail in connection with the biggest financial scandal to hit India, the letter alleged that the chief accused, Abdul Karim Telgi, was given special treatment on orders from Bhujbal and his nephew Samir.

While in Mumbai police custody, Telgi was kept in a hotel and even allowed to stay at his plush Cuffe Parade residence because Samir intervened and Bhujbal passed the order, said a copy of the letter to governor Mohammad Fazal presented in the House by Narayan Rane, the leader of the Opposition.

The letter was full of discrepancies and even the signature was not Kamath’s, Bhujbal’s office said in a statement. Bhujbal has denied involvement in the scam and said Samir, too, is innocent.

Political sources in Bhujbal’s Nationalist Congress Party and in the Congress, the senior partner in the ruling combine, said it would be tough for him to ward off the allegations. The letter would also bring the role of politicians under scrutiny with the scam having already claimed several police heads.

Arrested for extorting money from Telgi and then making away with a seized consignment of fake stamp paper worth Rs 86 crore, Kamath said in the letter from his cell that he wrote it because he “didn’t want only police officers to be arrested while politicians went free”.

The Opposition has been pointing an accusing finger at Bhujbal for some time and the letter will strengthen their demand for investigating his role, preferably by the CBI. Samir has been accused of acting as the conduit between Telgi and Bhujbal.

“Samir called me up after I was suspended and told me that I should not challenge the suspension because his uncle (Bhujbal) may land in trouble,” Kamath said in the letter.

“I was made a scapegoat because other, more powerful people wanted the stain not to touch them.”

For all his allegations, Kamath profited enormously from Telgi, going on an all-expenses paid holiday to Goa, staying in a five-star hotel with his family and running up a bill of Rs 50 lakh.

Spelling more trouble for Bhujbal, investigators today raided the premises of Jalgaon-based industrialist Antim Totla, who is alleged to have contacts with him as well as Telgi. Totla, who runs a petroleum business in three states, had denied links with Telgi, though he said he knew leaders of the ruling combine.

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