In a first, BJP MLAs have made their own government institute an inquiry of corruption against an IPS officer who they claim has made at least Rs 100 crore. A month after being forced to eat the humble pie over a paper leak scam, the BJP Government in Gujarat is now saddled with a more onerous task.
At least two BJP sitting MLAs and a Rajya Sabha member have heaped serious corruption allegations against Rajkot Police Commissioner Manoj Agarwal, significantly rubbing off on former chief minister Vijay Rupani.
BJP’s Rajya Sabha member Rambhai Mokariya, Govind Patel, sitting MLA and former minister in the outgoing Rupani Government, and legislator Arvind Raiyani from Rajkot are learnt to have conveyed at least 12 cases of alleged corruption against Manoj Agarwal to the State Government.
Govind Patel, who blew the first whistle, told Vibes of India, “I stick to my allegations. I have conveyed my issues to the MoS (Home) Harsh Sanghavi. I am sure action will be taken.” Patel had alleged earlier in the week that a Rajkot Crime Branch Police Inspector VK Gadhvi had extorted money from a local businessman on behalf of Agarwal.
He alleged that one businessman had claimed that the police was forcing him to vacate his land worth Rs 12 crore and that former Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani wanted to build a Jain derasar (temple) on the site. Patel alleged that Gadhvi had demanded a 30% commission for recovery of Rs 12 crore.
Asked if he made a list of 12 corruption charges against the Rajkot Police Commissioner, Govind Patel said, “I had only referred to this particular case (relating to the Rs 12 crore land).”
He said he had not given any written representation to the Minister of State for Home Harsh Sanghavi, which he had earlier claimed he would. “I have apprised the people concerned about the issue. I am confident necessary action will soon be taken.”
When contacted about the Gujarat Government’s view on the allegations, Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Raj Kumar told this reporter, “The government has asked the DGP (Director-General of Police Ashish Bhatia) to submit a report on the allegations. We will take a call once we get the report.”
He was of the view that mere allegations against an IPS officer could not result in action against him or her. “We can’t jump to conclusions,” Raj Kumar said.
Minister of State for Home Harsh Sanghavi was in a series of meetings since Tuesday afternoon, while his personal assistant said he would convey the message and the minister would call back.
Not only the three elected BJP members, but at least two more people have also made similar allegations. A timber merchant, Rajendra Jogi, has alleged that Rajkot Crime Branch police rounded him up without any reason, thrashed him and forced him to sign cheques of Rs 3.80 lakh.
Jogi told reporters in Rajkot, “I had no dues other than a few thousand rupees I owed to one party. But I was forcefully made to sign cheques by crime branch officials. I had contacted the Rajkot police commissioner, but nothing moved. I am going to move the court.”
Similarly, the family of one Hitesh Panbhar of Rajkot district has demanded that an FIR be lodged against the Police Commissioner and several other police officials in a land-grabbing scam of several plots of lands and properties worth Rs 32 crore.
Kanchanben Panbhar has moved an application to the State Government stating that if no FIR “could be filed against the guilty, our family would have to take the extreme step of self-immolation”, and they should be permitted to do so.
The Congress party has meanwhile grabbed the opportunity. Gujarat Congress president Jagdish Thakor sought Sanghavi’s resignation claiming such “collection” was happening across the state.
Thakor asserted, “This is not the only case of its kind. Every police station in Gujarat has been given a target by the BJP to collect a specific amount of money (every month) and give it to the party. BJP leaders mocked us when Congress raised this issue earlier. Now, the BJP’s own MLAs and leaders are saying that a police commissioner is collecting money.”
“The police commissioner has fixed a certain percentage as commission to get things done. The BJP protects anti-social elements as well as such officers. People are demanding answers from the BJP. Minister Sanghavi should tender his resignation,” Thakor added.