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CBI raids 36 places including BJD MP, MLA in chit fund scam




 CBI sleuths today conducted raids at around 36 places in Odisha including a BJD MP, MLA and a close aide of the chief minister in connection with Seashore group chit-fund scam, even as the ruling party hit the street slamming the move as a pre-Panchayat poll stunt.

The places raided by teams of the investigating agency included houses of Lok Sabha MP from Balasore Rabindra Jena, Choudwar-Cuttack MLA Prabhat Biswal and Saroj Sahu, office staff of Naveen Nivas, the residence of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, sources said.

While raids were conducted at over five premises of Jena at Balasore, CBI team raided Biswal’s government quarters in MLA Colony in Bhubaneswar and his house at Mahanadi Vihar locality in Cuttack, they said.

The house of Saroj Sahu, considered as close to the chief minister, was also raided by the agency sleuths in Palaspalli area here, sources said adding that Sahu had been interrogated by CBI in November, 2014 in connection with Seashore group ponzi scam.

Search operations were also carried out at the houses of some hotel owners, Seashore group officials and some other "important" persons in different places, they said.

The exercise was aimed at ascertaining the exact nature of links these people had with the Seashore group, which is accused of duping the investors of huge amount.

Jena, an industrialist-turned-politician, who was elected to Lok Sabha from Balasore in 2014, had already been grilled by the CBI in connection with alleged role in the Seashore chit fund scam, they said.

The probe agency sleuths also searched the house of Congress leader Bapi Serkhel in Bhubaneswar.

Similarly, the central probe agency had also interrogated Biswal several times in 2014, while his wife Laxmi Bilasini Biswal was also grilled by CBI recently.

Stating that he was extending full cooperation to the CBI in its probe, Biswal said the agency had earlier questioned his wife over a land deal and they sought more information on the matter today.

Strongly opposing the raids as a stunt to derive political gain for BJP ahead of the ensuing Panchayat polls in the state, BJD Spokesperson Pratap Keshari Deb said "it is part of a political conspiracy aimed at benefiting BJP."

Noting that the raids were being conducted on premises of leaders who had been questioned by CBI more than two years ago, Deb said the sudden move shows that BJP is desperate as its popularity and support base had nosedived in Odisha.

Meanwhile, a large number of youth and student activists of the ruling BJD staged a demonstration infront of the CBI office here in protest against raids conducted at the premises of the ruling party leaders.

Claiming that the operation was carried out at the behest of BJP leader and Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, Biju Yuva Janata Dal (BYJD) General Secratary, Bijay Nayak and president of party's student wing, Chinmay Sahu led the protest. The demonstrators also burnt an effigy of Dharmendra Pradhan.

Congress in a statement termed the raids as an "eyewash" saying if the premier probe agency is really serious they should directly interrogate Naveen Patnaik instead of raiding the house of his aide.

The agency has already filed charge sheet against CMD of the Seashore Group of companies Prashant Kumar Dash and others, the sources said.






Editorial

Précis 2017
From asking his party men to ‘live a simple life and serve the people’ to taunting the BJP for its ‘crocodile tears’, Chief Minister and BJD supremo Naveen Patnaik has not only become politically invincible, he seems to be so in the coming years too.

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