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Delhi Land Scam
CBI arrests Malhotra
Admits he was close to 2 Cong MLAs

Ravi Bhatia
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 6
Ashok Malhotra, the prime suspect in the Capital's multi-crore land scam, was today arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) after he surrendered in the studio of a private news channel in Noida.

A special CBI court had on Saturday issued non-bailable warrants against him, after he failed to appear before the investigating agency.

Malhotra came to the Zee News studio this morning from Agra where he had been reportedly hiding and denied all charges against him. Denying any links with Delhi CM Sheila Dikshit and Delhi Pradesh Cong Committee chief Ram Babu Sharma, he claimed he had never met them.

However, he admitted that he knew Congress MLAs Kunwar Karan Singh and Satpal Singh Bitto and took favours from them. His alleged involvement in the multi-crore land scam which has sent shock waves among the ruling Congress. It is being alleged that a scam of such proportions could not have been possible without the active connivance of some top leaders in Delhi.

Claiming that he had been framed, Malhotra denied that documents pertaining to Rs 5,500-crore property had been found in his house during a CBI raid on July 27. He also denied that he owned 52 cars but admitted to possessing only 17 vehicles.

The CBI team led by an officer of the rank of superintendent of police reached the Zee News studio where Malhotra had walked in this morning. He was later taken to the CBI headquarters here for questioning. CBI officials said he would be produced before a magistrate tomor row for further remand.

He also claimed that there was a threat to his life and so he had sought the media's help before surrendering to the CBI.

Malhotra, 52, was absconding after being accused of siphoning off millions of rupees in collusion with five Delhi Development Authority (DDA) officials, who were nabbed last month, and a private contractor by selling plots meant for allotment to displaced slum-dwellers between 2000 and 2002.

Malhotra, who has the contract of running the Delhi Vidhan Sabha canteen for the last several years, has had a meteoric rise in his fortunes in the last decade or so.

Beginning as a humble hawker in the National Capital Territory of Delhi in the eighties, Malhotra had emerged as a powerful figure in the corridors of power of Delhi.

The CBI had also claimed to have found several incriminating documents related to the land scam, Rs 17 lakh in cash, 7 kg of gold and at least 50 luxury cars and 10 motorcycles, all bearing VIP numberplates, from his palatial Mukherjee Nagar, North Delhi, residence.

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