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Raid leak puts CBI in the dock

New Delhi, Sept. 30: The Central Bureau of Investigation, instead of drawing accolades for nationwide raids, today faced flak over the leak of information on probable targets.

For at least 14 hours, the media knew that the country’s premier investigating agency, whose director U.S. Misra has recently been elected the vice-president of Interpol, is going to conduct nationwide raids beginning 7 am today.

The media even had information on the departments and places to be raided, as well as the possible targets and was told to run the news from the morning. A vernacular newspaper had even named the cities and departments involved and the number of officials who were to take part in the raids.

Misra tried to shield the bureau from accusations of a role in alerting the corrupt people. “Some leaks can take place when the raids are to be conducted on a very, very large scale by hundreds of officials and by roping in over 2,000 witnesses,” he said.

However, Misra finally admitted that some CBI officials could have been behind the leak. “We don’t know about them yet. But I assure you that we will soon catch them, start a departmental inquiry and suspend them,” he said.

The CBI conducted raids against 70 officials at 198 places in 54 cities and towns. Delhi topped with 34 officials, followed by Mumbai 25, Jaipur 9, Patna 8, Calcutta 7 and Chennai and Howrah 5 each.

The bureau booked senior officials of the Income Tax and Central Excise departments, the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation and Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited, among others.

Four of the cases were against officials above the rank of joint secretary, said Misra.

The agency registered a case against Income Tax commissioner B.R. Meena, currently posted in Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (Mumbai) for possessing assets to the tune of Rs 43 lakh disproportionate to his known sources of income. It claims to have found Rs 16 lakh in cash, 18 plots in Jaipur and a palatial house worth Rs 1 crore.

The CBI claimed to have recovered only some documents in raids conducted against former rural development minister of Punjab N.S. Kahlon who allegedly was involved in a scam where 900 people had paid Rs. 2 lakh to get the job of a secretary in the village panchayat.

Others booked include financial commissioner J.H. Kenu, the then deputy commissioner of Moga Mandeep Singh, and Vikas, Kahlon’s personal secretary.

A case was registered against four officials of BSNL and some executives of Modi Xerox for allegedly entering into a criminal conspiracy of fraudulently awarding to the company the tender of printing of telephone bills.

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