Bolt from the blue for bitter Modi baiter!

Gandhinagar :  The travails of suspended IAS officer Pradeep Sharma who took on the might of the Narendra Modi establishment in Gujarat refuse to end. If anything they are on the increase.

A day after the Enforcement Directorate (ED) attached his properties in Gandhinagar on Monday, the anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) of the Gujarat Police moved to arrest him on Tuesday, over alleged corruption charges against him.

Pradeep Sharma was in the news in the run up to the Lok Sabha elections when his name figured in the ‘Gujarat Snoopgate’ tapes released by two private portals. The two portals had released a series of taped conversations between former Gujarat home minister Amit Shah and IPS officer GL Singhal regarding surveillance on a woman architect in Ahmedabad.

The portals claimed Shah was heard asking Singhal in the tapes to track movements of the architect, her family members and also Pradeep Sharma, who was then posted as municipal commissioner of Bhavnagar. Singhal was arrested for his role in the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case and the tapes in question have since found their way to the CBI. In an ironic twist, Singhal is out of jail and has been reinstated on his job while Sharma seems headed for the cooler for the umpteenth time.

Sharma had even unsuccessfully tried to move court to register an FIR against Narendra Modi, who was then Gujarat chief minister, and Amit Shah, in connection with the case.

In the crackdown by the ED, a piece of land in Dehgam village near Gandhinagar and a portion of Sharma’s bungalow in the state capital have been seized under prevention of money laundering act.

Sharma has been accused of causing a loss of Rs 1.2 crore to the state exchequer by allotting government land to a Kutch-based industrial unit Welspun at throw away price during his tenure as the Kutch collector in 2003-04.

The ED is now probing whether Sharma’s US-based wife received any undue favours from Welspun in lieu of cheap land Sharma he gave to the industrial group for its factory in Kutch.

The ACB has found that the market price of the land allotted to Welspun was Rs. 60-70 per sq metre but Sharma charged only Rs. 15-18 per sq metre, causing a loss of approximately Rs. 1.2 crore.

Last month, the Supreme Court had rejected Sharma”s plea seeking CBI probe in five cases the Gujarat government had filed against him after his arrest in 2010.

R K MISRA

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