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'Riot probe team chief accepted favours from Gujarat government'

Monday March 14, 2011 11:46:52 PM, IANS

Gandhinagar: Expressing lack of confidence in the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the post-Godhra 2002 communal riots in Gujarat, the Congress Monday alleged the team chief's visits abroad were financed by the state government.

Leader of Opposition in the assembly Shaktisinh Gohil said he has definite information that several trips of SIT chief R.K.Raghavan to London were financed by the Gujarat government in order to win him over.

"These travel bills of Dr. Raghavan were cleared against all existing rules and norms of financial propriety. These pleasure trips by Dr. Raghavan were purely personal and private in nature and were not connected with the investigations into the post-Godhra communal riot cases. Despite this, the government of Gujarat willingly cleared all his travel bills without raising any objection," Gohil said, in a release issued here.

"And, Dr.Raghavan has returned the favour by making sure that the investigations done by the SIT steered clear of senior government functionaries and their political masters, including (Chief Minister Narendra) Modi. Further, no initiative has been taken by him or the SIT to probe whether there was any larger conspiracy behind the communal riots," Gohil added.

He also claimed Raghavan is also attached with Tata Group's cyber cell and along with corporate lobbyist Nira Radia helped Tata clinch the Nano car deal in Gujarat causing great loss to the exchequer of the state.

Gohil alleged that though the Tatas were investing only Rs.2,250 crore in Gujarat in the plant it shifted from Singur in West Bengal, the company was granted a loan of Rs.9,570 crore at the throw-away interest rate of 0.01 percent, while repayment of the loan will start after 20 years.

He demanded that favours to Raghavan and the Tatas should be probed by an independent agency.

Claiming that Raghavan has totally betrayed the trust put in him by the Supreme Court, Gohil said he had tried to bring this issue to light in 2009 by asking for relevant records under the Right to Information Act.

However, the SIT refused to part with the documents and stated that it was not a "public authority" within the meaning of the act since it was only a temporary panel formed by the orders of the apex court.

Gohil said if Raghavan denies these allegations, he should file an affidavit in the Supreme Court and provide details of all travel bills claimed by him along with documentary support. However, if he accepts these facts to be true, he should own up his guilt and resign from the SIT.








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