CBI raids Radia, Raja kin, Kanimozhi-linked NGO

Last Updated: Wed, Dec 15, 2010 08:20 hrs

New Delhi/Chennai, Dec 15 (IANS) In a coordinated crackdown as part of the 2G spectrum scam probe, the CBI Wednesday raided 34 houses and offices of corporate lobbyist Niira Radia, associates of former communications minister A. Raja and an NGO linked to DMK MP Kanimozhi here and in Tamil Nadu and seized 'incriminating documents', officials said.

As the government widened its inquiry into what is being described as India's worst corruption scandal, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) officials also questioned Radia and Pradeep Baijal, a former head of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).

There was no immediate reaction from Raja, the disgraced DMK leader, but Kanimozhi told a journalist that she was not aware of the CBI searches at the Chennai office of NGO Tamil Maiyam, where she is one of 10 directors.

'I have no knowledge of these raids. I have nothing to say,' Kanimozhi, daughter of DMK chief and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi, told TimesNow television channel.

Another key person raided in Chennai was Jegath Gaspar Raj, a Sri Lankan Tamil who has been close to the Tamil Tigers and Raja and who is managing trustee of the Tamil Maiyam. The NGO was founded in July 2002.

At the heart of the scandal are Raja, who is accused of causing huge losses to the exchequer by selling second generation spectrum at below market rates, and Radia, whose intercepted telephonic conversations showed her lobbying for Raja when a new government came in last year.

CBI Deputy Inspector General of Police Vinita Thakur told IANS that officials landed up at Radia's plush Sainik Farms house in south Delhi as well as her office in the heart of the city in the morning.

'The raids started early today (Wednesday),' Thakur told IANS. 'They will continue as long as needed. We hope to give out further details by evening.'

In all, 34 premises - seven in Delhi and 27 in Tamil Nadu - were raided, she said.

CBI officials, acting on information provided by the Enforcement Directorate, also searched the house of Baijal in Noida, a Delhi suburb. Baijal became a director in Radia's lobbying firm after retirement.

Official sources told IANS that the raids were ordered following specific information about key documents, many of which were seized. They said that many of the officials involved in the Tamil Nadu raids were from outside the state.

Also raided in Chennai were the house of a journalist with a leading Tamil magazine, a chartered accountant and an office belonging to Gaspar Raj.

A prominent DMK leader, Raja was forced to exit from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's government last month over charges that he sold spectrum at rates that have caused huge losses to the exchequer.

The controversy hit the roof following the leak of a large number of Radia's telephonic intercepts that showed her lobbying for Raja when the Congress was preparing to form a government in May last year.

Wednesday's raids came days after parliament's winter session ended in fiasco in the wake of opposition protests demanding a joint parliamentary probe into the spectrum scam. The government has rejected the demand.

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