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Inquiry against Shakti Bhog foods begins, CBI raids 8 places




The CBI has begun its inquiry into an alleged bank fraud of Rs 3,269.42 crore against Delhi-based Shakti Bhog Foods Ltd and conducted raids at eight locations, official sources said on Saturday.

The Central Bureau of Investigation teams searched eight locations in Delhi on Friday, including office and residential premises of the borrower company and other accused, which led to alleged recovery of incriminating documents.

The agency had on December 31 last year registered an FIR against the firm, its Managing Director Kewal Krishan Kumar, and Directors Siddharth Kumar and Sunanda Kumar regarding alleged fraud played on a consortium of 10 banks led by the State Bank of India.

The FIR was lodged on an SBI complaint that the company directors had falsified accounts and forged documents to siphon off public funds.

Shakti Bhog Foods is a 24-year-old firm involved in the sale of wheat, flour, rice, biscuits and cookies. It had grown organically as it ventured into food-related diversification over a decade with a turnover growth from Rs 1,411 crore in 2008 to Rs 6,000 crore in 2014, the SBI said in its complaint to CBI.

The growth came to an abrupt halt in 2015 with the company account turned into a Non-Performing Asset and it was ultimately declared a fraud in 2019.

The account turned into an NPA on account of inventory losses owing to a steep fall in paddy prices, underutilisation of capital expenditure in rice and paddy segments and a delay in tie-up funds to tide over losses, an investigation report by the bank on staff accountability had noted in 2017.

A forensic audit done by the bankers pointed out that the company, in its account books of financial year 2015-16, showed that its inventory worth over Rs 3,000 crore got damaged due to pests and was sold at substantially low prices.

It was allegedly contradictory to the stock and receivable audit report, which showed that the company had a stock of over Rs 3,500 crore in September 2015, its warehouses were fully stocked and none of the inventory was obsolete or slow moving, the bank alleged in its complaint.

The report also said the company had an insurance policy for protection against fire, earthquake and other perils but no claims were made against damage to stock due to pests. The accounts also did not show any receivables owing to the sale of damaged stocks at low prices, it said.

The report also pointed out round-tripping of funds and suspicious payments made by the company, besides fudging of account books, the officials said.


Batla House encounter: Court convicts Ariz Khan




A Delhi Court on Monday convicted Ariz Khan, an alleged Indian Mujahideen terrorist, in a case related to the 2008 Batla House encounter, noting that he intentionally caused the murder of encounter specialist and Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma.

On September 19, 2008, the Special Cell of Delhi Police carried out an encounter in Jamia Nagar’s Batla House, in which two suspected Indian Mujahideen terrorists and Inspector Sharma died.

Ariz Khan was arrested in February 2018, a decade after allegedly being on the run after the encounter at L-18 in Batla House.

“Khan, along with his associates, voluntarily caused grievous hurt to public servants. The accused intentionally and voluntarily caused murder of Inspector M.C. Sharma by use of gun shot,” said Additional Sessions Judge Sandeep Yadav.

The judge said that Khan and his associates also caused hurt to Head Constables Balwant Singh and Rajbir Singh.

The judge further said that the evidence produced on record leaves no matter of doubt that the prosecution has proved the case beyond all reasonable doubt and that the accused is liable to be convicted.

The court will hear the arguments on the point of sentencing on March 15 at 12 noon. It has also directed the investigating officer to conduct an enquiry to ascertain the financial ability of Khan and his family to give compensation to the victims.

Ariz has been convicted under section 186 (Obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions), 333 (voluntarily causes grievous hurt), 353 (Assault or criminal force to deter public servant), 302 (murder).

He has also been held guilty under 307 (attempt to murder), 174(a) (Non-appearance in response to a proclamation) 34 (criminal intention) of the Indian Penal Code and 27 (using any prohibited weapons) of the Arms Act.

Ariz is allegedly associated with the terror outfit Indian Mujahideen. Police claimed that he was present at Batla House, along with four others, and managed to give police a slip during the encounter.

As per the statements issued during Khan’s arrest in 2018, the police had said that Khan is an expert bomb maker, executioner and conspirator, and had been wanted for his involvement in various bomb blast cases in Delhi, Jaipur, Ahmedabad and Uttar Pradesh.

Additional Public Prosecutor (APP) A.T. Ansari represented the Delhi Police, while advocate M.S. Khan represented Ariz Khan during trial proceedings in the matter.

Of the five men residing in the apartment in Batla House, Mohammed Sajid and Atif Amin were killed during the encounter, Junaid and Shahzad Ahmad fled and were caught years later, while Mohammad Saif surrendered to the police.

A trial court had, in July 2013, sentenced Indian Mujahideen terrorist Shahzad Ahmed to life imprisonment in connection with the case.

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Maharashtra ATS forms multiple teams to probe Hiren’s ‘murder’



Anil Deshmukh

Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh on Monday said that the Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS) has registered a murder case and launched investigations into the mystery of Thane businessman Mansukh Hiren’s body being recovered from the Thane Creek wetlands on March 5.

A stolen SUV Scorpio, belonging to Hiren, had been abandoned outside Antilia, the home of Reliance Industries Ltd. Chairman Mukesh Ambani on Feb. 25 and later 20 gelatin sticks and a purported threat letter were found in it.

Exactly 10 days later, Hiren’s body was found in the Thane Creek, resulting in a political uproar after which it is now being probed as a murder case.

Deshmukh said that considering the circumstances and the appeals made by Hiren’s family, including his widow Vimala, the case has been handed over to the ATS which will probe the murder angle.

The ATS has set up around 10 investigation teams to probe different aspects of the probe, which visited the Hiren family and the marshes from where his body was fished out last Friday (March 5).

On a complaint by Vimala Hiren, the ATS has registered a FIR under Indian Penal Code’s Sec. 302 (murder), 201 (causing disappearance of evidence), 34 (common intention), and 120B (criminal conspiracy), against some unknown persons.

His family and friends rejected outright the ‘suicide’ theory since Hiren, 48, was a good swimmer, owned a car accessories business, in Thane.

On Saturday evening, Deshmukh held a meeting with Director-General of Police Hemant Nagrale, and the government wrote to Additional Director General of Police Jai Jeet Singh and ATS head, to take over the investigations.

In the letter to Singh, Deputy Home Secretary Ramesh Manale mentioned both the cases – the recovery of the SUV and gelatin sticks outside Antilia, coupled with the mystery death of Mansukh Hiren, the prime witness in the case, seeking an immediate probe and submitting the report to the government on priority.

Meanwhile, the gelatin sticks have been sent to the Forensics Science Laboratory, Mumbai for detailed analysis and to ascertain if the SUV chassis number of the car was tampered or changed, to help identify the real owner of the vehicle.

Earlier, Deshmukh informed the Maharashtra Legislature that the car belonged to one Sam Peter Newton and he had given it over to Hiren’s company for interior refurbishment – since he could not pay up for the work done.

However, Bharatiya Janata Party’s Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis, contested this pointing out how Hiren in his statement to the police had said that he had purchased the car from Newton.

Prior to his death, on March 2, Hiren had shot off a letter to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, Deshmukh and the police chiefs of Mumbai and Thane alleging harassment.

“I have already given my explanation and statements about how the vehicle was stolen, and I am being victimised and suffering harassment by police and news reporters,” Hiren’s letter said, adding that he had been repeatedly interrogated by the Vikhroli and Ghatkopar police stations, Crime Intelligence Unit and Nagpada unit of ATS and also NIA.

“The interrogation by various agencies disturbed my peace of mind. In spite of being a victim, I am treated as an accused. I have also been receiving calls from media houses who have been harassing me and my family,” he said.

The alleged threat letter, how the gelatin sticks were found in the SUV and tracking the vehicles’ original owner shall be matters of the investigation.

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Drug peddler linked to Sushant Singh Rajput probe arrested in Goa




Three persons, including one Hemant Sah alias Maharaj, who is allegedly linked to the drug probe launched following the death of Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput last year, have been arrested by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) officials in Goa, an official statement said on Monday.

Agency officials have also seized a large amount of drugs including cocaine, LSD, charas, ganja, during the simultaneous raids which are being conducted by the central agency through Sunday and Monday. Two foreigners from Congo and Nigeria have also been arrested by the agency officials.

Sah, a native of Madhya Pradesh, who had been running a shack along North Goa’s Morjim beach for several years had been named as a supplier by two alleged Mumbai-based drug dealers Anuj Keswani and Regan Mahakaal, who have been booked into the agency’s high profile drug probe.

“Hemant Sah alias Maharaj is native of Madhya Pradesh and was running a shack Buena Vida in Morjim area for the past several years. After locating Maharaj in Miramar area, his premises was raided in the late evening which resulted in recovery of 15 blots of LSD (commercial quantity) and charas 30 grams,” NCB zonal director Sameer Wankhede said.

In another raid, the agency officials nabbed Ugochukwu Solomon Ubabuko from Nigeria and John Infinity alias David from Congo seizing 41 blots of LSD (commercial quantity), charas 28 gram, cocaine 22 gram, ganja 1.100 kg, 160 grams of white powder and 500 grams blue crystal suspected to be psychotropic substance and an amount of Rs 10,000.

According to Wankhede, Ubabako had been previously arrested by the Goa Police in 2013 on a narcotics charge.

“During the follow-up action, NCB team searched premises of one Prasad Walke and recovered LSD blots (commercial quantity) on Monday. Seizure formalities are underway and we are looking for Prasad Walke and his other associates. Prasad Walke is a history sheeter who had already been booked by NCB Goa in the year 2018 for trafficking of LSD, cocaine, ecstacy and ganja,” the NCB statement also said.

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