The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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‘Bengali’ link in oil trail

New Delhi, March 21: Abdul Karim Telgi, the alleged mastermind in the stamp paper scam, began adulterating fuel in 1998 after he came in contact with Jai Kisan Singh, alias Bengali, a CBI probe has revealed.

Telgi did not invest the proceeds of the stamp scam into his adulteration racket. Instead, he began the two rackets almost simultaneously. The alleged mastermind was questioned by a CBI team recently on his reported involvement in fuel adulteration.

Bengali, who is currently behind bars in Pune and whose role in the stamp scam is being investigated by a Mumbai special investigation team, helped Telgi buy a perforating machine from the Indian Security Press at Nashik, CBI sources allege.

The two got together around six years ago and began adulterating fuel in the railway yard area of Igatpuri in Nashik.

Manoj Mehta, an established petroleum dealer in Mumbai, had given them tips about which markets they could spread their tentacles to, CBI sources say.

It was reportedly at Mehta’s suggestion that Telgi began to invest in adulteration. The petroleum dealer, who is lodged in a Pune jail, roped in Telgi as he did not have money to invest in infrastructure.

Mehta is said to have introduced Telgi to Jalgaon-based oilman Antim Totla. The oilman was recently questioned by the investigation team over his alleged links with the nephew of former Maharashtra deputy chief minister Chhagan Bhujbal.

After meeting Telgi, Totla floated Progressive Petroleum Limited — one of the six places the CBI raided on March 10 — in order to use it as a front company for mixing naphtha in petrol and diesel. Another Totla company, Paradise Ltd, has also come under the CBI scanner.

Sources said Telgi bought the Mumbai-based Thane Polyorganic Private Limited, which is now defunct, for Rs 1 crore. They added that he bought the company to show it was using the naphtha he would buy from the domestic and foreign market.

Some Maharashtra officials are thought to be involved in the racket as states are supposed to give licences only to legitimate companies for importing naphtha from abroad. But Telgi reportedly got the licence due to “other considerations”.

The CBI has already questioned Telgi, Bengali, Totla and Mehta over the adulteration racket.

Officials said they will be remanded in custody after the papers seized from them are scrutinised.

CBI sources allege that Telgi’s fuel adulteration network is as deep-rooted, well-spread and well-organised as his stamp racket that was running across the country. They say the scam mastermind has a gangster’s mind, evidenced from the way he used his police contacts to “neutralise” business opponents and those who came in his way.

The sources said Telgi got his one-time close aide Bengali arrested, first by Nashik police and later by Delhi inspector Puran Singh. The CBI has arrested Puran in another stamp scam case for being a Telgi “conduit”.

The bureau has also identified some retail outlets and companies in Karnataka and Gujarat which Telgi owned either in his own name or as a benami firm.

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