Sunday,  December 22, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Trader evades arrest, courtesy Sena
T.R. Ramachandran
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 21
The reported intervention by Shiv Sainiks in Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee’s government is said to have prevented the arrest of a businessman in Ludhiana for evading customs duty amounting to about Rs 22 crore.

Chairman of the Central Board of Excise and Customs M.K. Zutshi is believed to have given the necessary directions over the telephone to the Customs Collector in Amritsar on November 26 not to arrest Harbhajan Singh Sandhu, having two export-oriented units (EOUs).

Inquiries here reveal that Sandhu has been evading arrest due to his proximity to Shiv Sena leaders having connections with the Central leadership.

Sandhu appeared before Customs Commissioner in Amritsar R. Bhattacharji accompanied by Jai Bhagwan Goel, president of the northern region of the Shiv Sena.

Mr Bhattacharji states in a communication to the CBEC Chairman that Sandhu refused to cooperate by giving non-commital and evasive replies during his interrogation.

It is apparent that Mr Zutshi as the CBEC Chairman would not have ordered the stoppage of the arrest of Sandhu without the necessary political directions. The Commissioner of Customs, Amritsar, therefore, had to let off Sandhu without taking him into custody. Several attempts to contact the Chairman of the CBEC to seek his comments proved to be in vain.

In a letter dated November 28 to the Chairman of the CBEC, Mr Bhattacharji, the Commissioner of Customs, Amritsar, has drawn attention to the commercial fraud case of evading about Rs 22 crore of customs duty against M/s Royal Industries, Ludhiana and M/s Punjab Exports, Ludhiana, — 100 per cent EOUs.

Mr Bhattacharji’s letter of November 28 to Mr Zutshi states:

“Please refer to your telephonic directions given to me on 26th of November, 2002, in this case. Shri Harbhajan Singh Sandhu came to this office. As usual, he did not cooperate and gave evasive and non-committal replies during his interrogation. He was escorted by Shri Jai Bhagwan Goel of the Shiv Sena.

“As per your directions he was not arrested.

“In this connection I would also like to mention that Shri Jai Bhagwan Goel of the northern region of the Shiv Sena has been making curious calls to the Joint Commissioner of Customs, Ludhiana, Shri Amit Goel. A gist of one such call is enclosed with this fax. This same Shri Jai Bhagwan had, in early November, visited Shri Anant Ram, Chief Commissioner of Customs (Preventive) with Shri Sandhu to intercede for leniency towards the latter.

At that time, around Divali, this same person’s office had been ringing up my wife in Delhi enquiring, among other things, why I was not in Delhi for Divali. Again, last evening some one from his office rang up my wife enquiring about the postal address of our house in Delhi as well as the landmarks. This person or his office has not contacted me at all, especially when they knew that I was in Amritsar. I only hope that there’s nothing sinister in these calls. Other calls in this matter have been received by me from Shri Pathak, OSD in the office of the honourable Speaker of Parliament.

I am bringing this for your information to add to the background of this case already given in my fax of 5th November, 2002.

“As also ordered by you I am sending this fax to seek your confirmation about not arresting Shri Harbhajan Singh Sandhu,” Mr Bhattacharji added in his letter to the CBEC Chairman.

Home | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Editorial |
Business | Sport | World | Mailbag | In Spotlight | Chandigarh Tribune | Ludhiana Tribune
50 years of Independence | Tercentenary Celebrations |
122 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |