December 1999 News

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Inquiry Comm asked to go ahead with Ministerís interrogation

98 December 1999
Daily Excelsior
December 17

CM secures resignations of all Ministers except Ansari
Ansari fails to turn up for crucial cabinet meet
Naik's resignation accepted reshuffle by December 17

JAMMU, Dec 8: The State Government today gave a green signal to RV Raju Commission, which was probing Sidhra land scam involving Housing and Urban Development Minister Moulvi Iftikhar Hussain Ansari, to go ahead with fair and impartial investigations and interrogate Ansari, his relatives or any other official, if necessary.

A decision to this effect was announced by the Government after a specially convened cabinet meeting which authorised Chief Minister Dr Farooq Abdullah to take any decision against Ansari, who didnít turn up for the meeting. The meeting was chaired by Chief Minister Dr Farooq Abdullah.

Circles close to Chief Minister said all Ministers in the Cabinet meeting authorised Dr Farooq Abdullah, who also happens to be the Home Minister, to take any action against Ansari, who has been charged with receiving kickbacks worth Rs 60.25 lakhs in Sidhra land scam.

These circles said after the cabinet meeting, the Government asked the Inquiry Commission to complete investigations in Sidhra land scam case at the earliest and submit report to the Government immediately for initiating further action in the matter. The Government told the Commission that it was free to interrogate whosoever was involved in the scamóbe he a Minister, his secretaries or relatives.

It may be reported that RV Raju Commission, whose report was made public by the Government itself, had favoured interrogation of Ansari, his family members, who were partners in his firm M/s Classic Inn, New Delhi and Ansariís staff including Private Secretary. With Government finally giving a nod to the Commission, the interrogation of Ansari and his family members besides staff has become inevitable.

These circles said all Ministers in the cabinet endorsed the decision of Chief Minister Dr Farooq Abdullah that law must take its own course in the scam and there was absolutely no question of shielding anyone.

At the beginning of the meeting, the Chief Minister told Ministers that he had convened the cabinet meeting to give Ansari a fair chance to explain his position before the Ministers. However, Ansari didnít attend the meeting despite being informed about it in advance and stayed away in Srinagar.

Meanwhile, the Chief Minister today obtained resignations of all the Ministers excepting Mr Ansari as a step towards a major reshuffle in the cabinet, which was expected to be completed by December 17. Mr Ansari didnít turn up for todayís cabinet meeting and stayed in Srinagar. Ansariís resignation was awaited till late this evening.

Sources said the Chief Minister was of the view that Ansari can be no exception as all other Ministers have submitted their resignations. "Scam or no scam, Ansari will have to resign as all other Ministers did to facilitate re-shuffle in the cabinet", the sources said, adding that "even if Ansari didnít submit his resignation now, his sacking will become imminent".

They said the Chief Minister was now comfortably placed by securing resignations of all his Ministers barring Ansari. He will now effect a reshuffle in the cabinet after assessing all pros and cons especially the performance of his Ministers. Tentatively, the reshuffle was expected to take place before 17th of this month. The reshuffle in the cabinet will be followed by a shake-up in the administration at both civil and police level.

Sources said there will be no expansion of the cabinet. No new face will be inducted, they said a dozen persons holding the charge of Ministers in their capacity as chairman and vice chairman of corporations would also be deprived of the posts.

After the cabinet meeting, Dr Farooq Abdullah left for New Delhi this afternoon. He will return here a day after. According to circles close to him, the Chief Minister has gained time for a reshuffle in the cabinet to think and select an effective and clean team of Ministers, which will be result-oriented.

Meanwhile, Revenue Minister Mr Ali Mohd Naik, who has been elected to Lok Sabha from Anantnag Parliamentary constituency, has submitted his resignation. The resignation was forwarded to Governor, who accepted the resignation this evening.

Pending reshuffle, the Chief Minister will himself hold the portfolio of Revenue.

Circles close to the Chief Minister categorically denied that any pressure was put by the Chief Minister on Jammu and Kashmir Bank chairman Mr M Y Khan for releasing bank guarantees in favour of Infrastructure Projects Private Limited (IPPL), a firm involved in the Sidhra land scam.

It may be recalled that RV Raju Commission report had clearly indicted Ansari for charging kickbacks worth Rs 60.25 lakh from Alchemy Enterprises, a bogus firm floated by the Directors of Infrastructure Projects Private Ltd. Some of the amount was reported to have been paid to Ansari through cheques on the name of Ansari and his family members while some amount was paid in cash.

Jayant Bhutta, a Director of IPPL, had also confessed in his statement recorded during his custodial interrogation that he paid Rs 60.25 lakh worth kickbacks to Ansari to get the bank guarantees released without sanctioning any installment of loan to JDA as agreed under the agreement for development of Sidhra colony.

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