DW Correspondent / Chandigarh
Now that the SIT has unearthed a huge haul of cash from its own police officials, it is confronted with evidence of another major scam. Sources say that Punjab could be the hub for a massive scale “laundering of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funds”. The SIT team during its probe into the “loot” of around Rs 5.5 crore, which was recovered during a raid by Khanna police in Jalandhar, has come across evidence that points in that direction.
So, the SIT has now widened the scope of its probe to investigate what could be a large-scale CSR funds racket in the state, sources said.
Senior officers informed Daily World that the police have got credible leads regarding use of societies and trusts by companies and middlemen to launder CSR funds. “The Jalandhar police have already been tasked to carry out special operations to unearth this racket which could be to the tune of thousands of crores,” they added. The Income Tax department, too, is reportedly probing the racket and assisting the State police to identity organisations and middlemen involved in routing the CSR funds through societies and trusts to launder cash.
In fact, this was the ploy used by the Khanna police to reach the exact location where cash worth several crores were stored in Jalandhar before the raids were conducted. The district police had used some middlemen involved in the laundering of CSR funds through societies and religious institutions to identify the location and recover the huge cash. The Khanna police after the raids had also arrested some of the middlemen who have been facilitating such illegal transactions for years.
Police sources say the recovery of Rs 4.71 crore from the possession of two Punjab police ASIs arrested by the Kerala police on a specific input from the Punjab police recently has, meanwhile, opened a Pandora’s box about the state of affairs in Punjab. Of around Rs 24 crore that were stacked in the premises of a priest in Jalandhar, around Rs 9.66 crore was shown as recovered by the Khanna police last month. The ASIs who were part of the raiding party “misappropriated” around Rs 5.5 crore and did not bring this recovery on record.
Later, the priest, Father Antony Madasserry had raised an alarm, claiming that besides Rs 9.66 crore shown on record as recovered, the district police had misappropriated Rs 6.66 crore recovered from the first floor of his house. Now, after a detailed check, the priest has told the SIT that the amount pilfered by the police could have been only Rs 5.5 crore and not what was originally claimed by him.
During the interrogation, the two arrested ASIs – Rajpreet Singh and Joginder Singh – have revealed that they had stashed away Rs 4.71 crore with ahartiyas (middlemen) in Sangrur, some gangsters and their associates in different parts of Punjab. The cops then decided to go missing. Initially, they went to Kathmandu in Nepal and stayed there for a few days before returning to India and finally hiding in Kerala. “It was the use of both human as well as technical intelligence that helped the Punjab police zero in on the location of the two ASIs who were subsequently arrested by the Kerala police,” a police officer informed.
“We are almost done with the first phase of investigations and now have entered into the second phase by activating our teams to collect evidence against the organisations involved in laundering of CSR funds. We are expecting to soon get hold of some of those who have caused a massive loss to the exchequer by laundering CSR funds,” he said, adding that the police department would look at the role of other police officers during the third phase of its investigations.
DW Correspondent / Chandigarh