New Delhi: Former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav may face a probe by the CBI in an illegal mining case in the state, according to the agency FIR made public on Saturday, the day arch rivals SP and BSP indicated their intent to join hands to counter the ruling BJP in 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
The CBI carried out searches at 14 locations on Saturday in connection with its FIR against 11 persons including IAS officer B Chandrakala, Samajwadi Party MLC Ramesh Kumar Mishra and Sanjay Dixit (who unsuccessfully contested the 2017 assembly election on a BSP ticket) to probe alleged illegal mining of minor minerals in Hamirpur district during 2012-16. Minor minerals are like sand, gravels etc.
Chandrakala, who is on study leave now a days, is one the most talked about officers on social media because of her purported anti-corruption drive videos on various platforms. Her social media videos lashing out at government officials earned her a title of 'Lady Dabang' (daring).
A UP cadre IAS officer of the 2008-batch, Chandrakala was the district magistrate of Hamirpur during 2012-14 when she allegedly violated e-tender system of allotting mining contracts in her district, the FIR said.
"The role of the then mining ministers concerned during the relevant period may be looked into during the course of investigation of the case," the FIR said.
Akhilesh Yadav, who was the chief minister of the state between 2012 and 2017, held the mining portfolio during 2012-13 apparently bringing his role under scanner, according to the FIR. He was succeeded by Gayatri Prajapati, who took charge as mining minister in 2013 and was arrested in 2017 following a complaint of rape by a woman residing in Chitrakoot.
This is a third FIR pertaining to illegal mining cases which were registered by the agency on January 2, 2019, nearly two-and-a-half year after it was directed by the Allahabad High Court to probe the issue.
The CBI was directed by the High Court on July 28, 2016 to probe illegal mining in the state following which it had registered seven preliminary enquiries out of which two pertaining to Shamli and Kaushambi districts were converted into FIRs in 2017.
Senior officials said cases pertaining to Fatehpur, Deoria, Saharanpur and Siddharth Nagar districts will be filed soon. The agency is probing the illegal mining during the period of 2012 and 2016.
The searches of the agency took place on a day the Samajwadi Party and the Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party gave contours of an electoral alliance ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
The coming together of the two arch rivals may spell trouble for the ruling BJP which had a home run in 2014 elections when it won 71 out of total 80 Lok Sabha seats in the state.
SP spokesperson Abdul Hafiz Gandhi said the timings of the raids raises questions about the intentions of the government. "The party welcomes the CBI action but the timings do raise questions. Especially since this is coming right after stories of SP-BSP alliance in the media," he told News18.
The FIR also states that it was the Uttar Pradesh government under Akhilesh Yadav that had introduced e-tendering process to grant or renew mining leases on May 31, 2012, a move ratified by the Allahabad High Court in 2013.
It is alleged that Chandrakala in criminal conspiracy with other officials illegally granted fresh leases, renewed existing ones and permitted obstructed period to the existing lease holders in violation of e-tendering process initiated by the government.
The FIR also accused her and other suspects of allegedly allowing illegal mining, extortion from the lease holders and drivers of the vehicles transporting minerals.
The searches at 12 places in Uttar Pradesh's Hamirpur, Jalaun, Lucknow, Noida, besides in Delhi, led to the recovery of cash over Rs 12.5 lakh, property documents, 1.8 kilogram gold etc. The Noida and Lucknow residences of Chandrakala were also searched.
Others named in the FIR include Dinesh Kumar Mishra, brother of SP MLC Ramesh Mishra; Ram Ashrey Prajapati (then mining clerk), Ambika Tiwari (who is related to Mishra brothers), Sanjay Dixit's father Satyadev Dixit, Ram Avtar Singh (retired mining clerk), Karan Singh (lease holder) and Adil Khan, the illegal excavator.
Khan was allegedly given work on the recommendation by Gayatri Prajapati, the mining minister who took charge in 2013.