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Case against whistleblower officer

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By BASANT RAWAT
  • Published 6.12.11
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Ahmedabad, Dec. 5: An IAS officer who blew the whistle on illegal quarrying that led to a former BJP minister’s arrest has been chargesheeted in a 10-year-old case, raising suspicions that he was being “targeted” for taking on the powerful mining mafia.

Sources said the chargesheet against H.N. Chibber, just a day before he retired on November 30, appeared to be a direct fallout of his investigations near Porbandar, Mahatma Gandhi’s birthplace where he was posted as collector in 2006.

Chibber, who confirmed receiving the chargesheet, said he was being “targeted” because he took on the mining mafia who had been enjoying BJP patronage.

The charge against Chibber is that he favoured a particular company by giving it more than 60 per cent subsidy to rebuild after the 2001 quake, violating policy decisions.

“I didn’t do anything wrong,” Chibber said, adding that he was being framed.

Another officer, Rajiv Topno, has also been chargesheeted. Topno, who was Kutch district development officer, is now the only officer from Gujarat serving in the Prime Minister’s Office.

Investigations by Chibber and the Gujarat mines and mineral department had revealed that powerful local politicians had over the years patronised illegal quarrying of 1.5 crore tonnes of limestone worth Rs 500 crore.

The scam came to light in 2006 when Chibber and a team headed by the police chief of Porbandar raided a mine and caught several labourers excavating limestone illegally.

A probe revealed the involvement of former BJP minister Babu Bokhiria and Bhima Dula, a local gangster. Dula, now in jail in connection with a murder case, is the brother of BJP MLA Karsan Dula. Bokhiria, one of the main accused in the case, was arrested but was released on bail after six months.

Soon after he raided Bokhiria’s alleged illegal mining operations, Chibber was shunted out. Transferred as additional commissioner, rural development, he remained in the post till his retirement.

Three years ago, the officer was passed over for promotion. “My immediate boss was asked to write an adverse remark on my CR, which he did, but the chief secretary set it aside. But the (panchayat) minister was against me and asked him not to promote me. So I have retired without promotion,” Chibber said.

The minister, whose mobile was switched off, could not be reached for comment.

The chargesheet means Chibber will have to wait for his retirement dues till he is exonerated.

Gujarat Congress chief Arjun Modhwadia, who defeated Bokhiria from Porbandar, said “Chibber had done a good job wherever he was posted”.

A Congress source claimed Chibber was targeted as he was also a witness in several illegal mining cases involving Bokhiria. “The government perhaps wants to put pressure on him and send a message to other officers,” he added.

Congress sources said Chibber had been slapped with an old case as it was the only one that could be fished out against him.

Sources said Chibber couldn’t be singled out as both he and Topno were posted in Kutch in 2001. So both have been chargesheeted, a source said.