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Saturday , February 20 , 2010
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IT man probing Koda shunted

Ranchi, Feb. 19: The income tax official overseeing the ongoing nationwide raids on Madhu Koda and his associates was transferred today, fuelling speculation that his team may have stumbled upon incriminating documents to link various politicians of the state to the former chief minister’s alleged money laundering operations.

Income tax (IT) director (investigation) Ujjwal Choudhary, who was camping in Chaibasa till yesterday, was unceremoniously removed and redesignated chief IT commissioner (central) in Patna.

Chief income tax commissioner of Patna Ajay Kumar would take over the case now as IT director (investigation).

“I believe I have been transferred. The new job is of a different nature. But I am still a commissioner rank officer. Nobody can lower my rank,” an angry Choudhary told The Telegraph over phone from Patna.

Choudhary and additional director (investigation) Ajit Kumar Shrivastava were leading the search and seizure operations against Koda and his aides who allegedly helped the former chief minister amass over Rs 2,000 crore from questionable mining and rural electrification project contracts, among other deals.

Choudhary, who left for Patna yesterday, has been involved with the case since the first round of raids against Koda and his henchmen on October 31, 2009.

A senior IT official admitted today’s move was demoralising. “The unceremonious removal of a top officer in the midst of ongoing raids sends a wrong signal,” he said requesting anonymity.

Over the last two days, the IT department has been conducting raids on the property of several Koda aides, including Manohar Pal, the private secretary to the chief minister, across the country. IT officials said they found Pal to own undeclared property worth over Rs 50 crore.

IT officials had also recovered a diary detailing various off-shore bank accounts of at least six state politicians. The diary was found at the premises of Ashok Chitkara, a hawala agent who routinely helped politicians park their funds.

Choudhary’s exit from the case has also stirred Durga Oraon to file a PIL in the Jharkhand High Court seeking a stay on the transfer. It was Oraon who had filed a PIL seeking a CBI inquiry into the disproportionate assets cases against Koda and some of his former cabinet colleagues.

Former BJP MLA from Jamshedpur (west) Sarayu Roy, who has been a vocal critic of the Koda regime, said Choudhary’s transfer was like “removing a general when the army is out fighting a war”.

He said the move would effect the investigations adversely as information about the ongoing raids was yet to be collated.

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