2G scam: CBI raids Radia, Kanimozhi NGO

Incriminating documents have been recovered from raids on A Raja`s kins, Niira Radia & Pradeep Baijal.

New Delhi: Incriminating documents on the 2G spectrum scam have been recovered in raids on 34 residences and offices in Delhi, Tamil Nadu and Noida including those of former communications minister A. Raja`s relatives, lobbyist Niira Radia and former official Pradeep Baijal, the Central Bureau of Investigation said Wednesday.

"The raids started early morning today (Wednesday) in 34 places in Tamil Nadu, Delhi and Noida and have led to the recovery of incriminating documents. Searches are still going on," CBI Deputy Inspector General Vinita Thakur told reporters here.

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

Among those whose premises were searched was Pradeep Baijal, a senior bureaucrat who headed the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) in 2004-08 and who played a key role in spectrum allocation. One of the CBI targets in Chennai was NGO Tamil Maiyam, where Kanimozhi is a director.

Neither the DMK, which rules Tamil Nadu and is a key Congress ally, nor any of those raided offered comments. But Kanimozhi made a brief statement to IANS: "I have no comments on the CBI raids."

CBI Deputy Inspector General of Police Vinita Thakur announced in the evening that raids were still going on in some places and that the operation followed investigations into the controversial allocation of second generation spectrum when Raja was the minister.

"CBI has conducted searches at the residential and official premises of several companies, their directors and former TRAI chairman as part of the follow up of searches conducted Dec 8," Thakur said in New Delhi.

"Searches conducted at around 34 places in Tamil Nadu, Delhi and Noida have led to the recovery of incriminating documents," she said.

CBI officials in Chennai declined to speak.

All those targeted by the CBI are closely linked to Raja, a DMK leader who quit Prime Minister Manmohan Singh`s government last month in the wake of allegations of corruption and wrongdoing in spectrum allocation. He has denied the charges.

Another key person raided in Chennai was Jegath Gaspar Raj, an Indian Tamil who has supported Raja and Sri Lanka`s vanquished Tamil Tigers and who is managing trustee of the Tamil Maiyam. The NGO was founded in July 2002.

Also searched was Gaspar Raj`s Goodwill Communications in Chennai.=

At the heart of the scandal are Raja, accused of selling spectrum at below market rates, and Radia, whose intercepted telephonic conversations showed that she lobbied for him when a new government came in last year.

Radia`s plush south Delhi house and office in the heart of the capital were searched. Radia, a source said, was questioned for about five hours.

Twnetyseven of the places raided were in Raja`s home state Tamil Nadu. They included Raja`s brother A. Ramanathan in Chennai and Trichy, another brother in Ariyalur, a sister in Trichy, a Tamil magazine journalist in Chennai, Raja`s residence in his village and an auditor, G. Subramanyam, journalists who witnessed the raids said.

Another journalist, G.L. Narasimhan, was targeted in Trichy.

CBI officials, acting on information provided by the Enforcement Directorate, searched former TRAI chief Baijal`s house in Noida, a suburb of Delhi. Baijal joined Radia`s lobbying firm after retirement.

The spectrum 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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