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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
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N A T I O N

SC reduces Amarinder’s foreign stay
New Delhi, October 12
Amid high-pitched arguments on alleged “political vendetta” in Ludhiana City Centre scam case against former Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, the Supreme Court today reduced the period of his stay abroad to one month from the 50 days’ permission granted to him by the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

Bhattal, farmers meet Sonia Gandhi
New Delhi, October 12
Former Punjab Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal today said tomorrow’s function where she would formally take over as PCC chief would be converted into “thanksgiving rally” to appreciate the Centre’s announcement of hiking the MSP.
Farmers from Punjab led by Punjab Congress president Rajender Kaur Bhattal thank AICC president and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi for enhancement of MSP for wheat and other rabi crops at 10 Janpath in New Delhi Farmers from Punjab led by Punjab Congress president Rajender Kaur Bhattal thank AICC president and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi for enhancement of MSP for wheat and other rabi crops at 10 Janpath in New Delhi on Friday.
— A Tribune photograph



EARLIER STORIES


Gujarat Poll
Modi to remain BJP’s chief ministerial candidate: Rajnath
Lucknow, October 12
Dismissing dissident activity in the Gujarat unit BJP national president Rajnath Singh today declared that Narendra Modi would remain the party’s chief ministerial candidate during the forthcoming election.

Doubts over CEC’s fairness in Gujarat poll
New Delhi, October 12
A petition was filed in the Supreme Court today alleging that Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) N. Gopalaswamy had a friendly nexus with Gujarat CM Narendra Modi and he should be ‘restrained’ from the Assembly election schedule.

Rizwanur Death Case
Cops to be punished only after probe: Basu
Kolkata, October 12
Police officials involved in the mysterious death of a young graphic designer, Rizwanur Raham, will not be punished till the judicial inquiry ordered into the case is over, veteran CPI (M) leader Jyoti Basu told mediapersons at CPI (M)’s Alimuddin Street party office today.

Corrupt or Clean ?
YSR set to order probe into own, Naidu assets
Hyderabad, October 12
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S Rajasekhara Reddy is set to create a judicial history of sorts by ordering an inquiry into the assets of his family and that of his bete noire and opposition leader N.Chandrababu Naidu.

SC rejects Geelani’s plea
Parliament Attack Case

New Delhi, October 12
The Supreme Court today dismissed the petition of city college lecturer S.A.R Geelani for expunging apex court’s stinging remarks against him in the order upholding his acquittal in the Parliament attack case due to lack of evidence with the observation that his role was “suspicious”.

Court stays telecast of serial on Veerappan
Chennai, October 12
The television serial on forest brigand and sandal wood smuggler Veerappan, which was to be telecast from Monday, has been stayed by a city civil court today. The telecast of the serial named “Sandhanakkaadu” meaning sandalwood forest has been stayed by the Sixth Additional City Civil Court till October 26 following an appeal by Muthulakshmi, Veerappan’s widow.

Baradei warns against tight timeline
New Delhi, October 12
The Manmohan Singh government got a shot in the arm from none other than IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei who said it was in India’s interest to seal the Indo-US nuclear deal at the earliest. But he also warned that India was up against a tight timeline to finalise its safeguards negotiations with the IAEA so that the US could move the Nuclear Suppliers Group by mid-November for allowing India global nuclear commerce.

‘UP govt partial in allowing use of venue’
Lucknow, October 12
Samajwadi Party president Mulayam Singh Yadav announced on Friday that a meeting of the party’s national executive would be convened soon. He also charged the state government of being partial in denying SP the permission to hold its workers’ meet at the Laxman Mela grounds in the state capital on October 24.

Centre asks Rajasthan to strengthen security
New Delhi, October 12
The Centre today asked the Rajasthan government to take all possible steps to strengthen security in and around the highly-revered sufi shrine of Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti at Ajmer, where a bomb blast last evening killed two and injured over 28 people.

Four new judges for Punjab & Haryana HC
New Delhi, October 12
President Pratibha Patil has issued orders for the appointment of four Additional Judges in the Punjab and Haryana High Court and one in the Jammu and Kashmir High Court.

Id-ul-Fitr tomorrow
New Delhi, October 12
Id will be celebrated in the country on Sunday. This was announced by Mufti Mohd Mukkaram Ahmed, Shahi Imam of Delhi’s Fatehpuri Masjid, after a meeting of the Ruyat-e-Hilal Committee here tonight.

Security beefed up in TN
Chennai, October 12
Security at all religious places in Tamil Nadu has been beefed up in view of forthcoming festivals of Id-ul-Fitr, Durga Puja and Diwali in the wake of yesterday’s blast at dargah in Ajmer.

CBI nabs absconding mutual fund scamster
New Delhi, October 12
The CBI has arrested a promoter of M/s INCAN Mutual Fund Benefit Ltd, Lucknow, and its group companies for his alleged involvement in duping unsuspecting investors in Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh to the tune of Rs 72 crore.

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SC reduces Amarinder’s foreign stay
S S Negi
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, October 12
Amid high-pitched arguments on alleged “political vendetta” in Ludhiana City Centre scam case against former Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, the Supreme Court today reduced the period of his stay abroad to one month from the 50 days’ permission granted to him by the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

A Bench of Justices A.K. Mathur and Markandey Katju, who in the beginning of the hearing had shown their disinclination to hear the matter saying the courts should not be made a “ground for settling political scores”, reduced the period of Amarinder Singh’s stay abroad to 30 days after state counsel K.K. Venugopal took a serious view of such an observation.

The Bench said that it was not interfering with the high court’s order of granting bail to Amarinder Singh but he should return to India in one month and “cooperate” with the Vigilance Bureau (VB) in the investigation of the case.

“If he does not cooperate, it will be open to the State of Punjab to move the high court for recall of the order of his bail. We hope and trust that he will cooperate in the investigation. He will not go abroad (in future) without the permission of the High Court,” the apex court recorded in its order.

In a related case, the Bench granted bail to Gulshan Gambhir, an executive of Today Home, the company, which was awarded the controversial contract for developing the City Centre complex in Ludhiana. He was directed to furnish a bond of Rs 5 lakh and two sureties of equal amount to the satisfaction of the trial court. His bail plea was rejected by the high court.

He was also directed to join the investigation, failing which the state government was given the liberty to move an application before the apex court for recall of today’s order granting bail to him.

Amarinder left for Dubai yesterday.

The hearing of the former CM’s case started with a high-pitched drama when the Bench had virtually put down the files stating that it was not inclined to interfere in the matter, which smacks of “political vendetta”. Punjab government had moved two applications, one for cancelling Amarinder’s bail and another for setting aside the order permitting his foreign visit.

But Venugopal said the Court could not deny him a hearing without going into the merits of the case, particularly when the present state government, headed by Parkash Singh Badal, did not order the investigation in the case.

He said the Court must consider the fact that the Amarinder Singh Government itself ordered the investigation, following which an FIR was registered by VB on March 23, 2006.

He said the investigating agency had recovered a computer pen drive having the details of the monetary transactions and this material has to be looked into by the court before taking a decision on the petitions moved by the state government, he said.

His arguments yielded desired results for the government as it got an order with express directions to Amarinder Singh to join the investigation on return.

Amarinder denies ‘non-cooperation’

Capt Amarinder Singh today refuted the charge of the Punjab Government that he was shying away from the investigation in the Ludhiana city centre scam case and said he was always ready to reply to any of the queries put by the Vigilance Bureau.

“They questioned me on May 28 and I responded to all of their queries. But for the last six months I have been awaiting for a call from them but nobody called me,” Singh told The Tribune on phone from Dubai.

He was reacting to today’s order of the Supreme Court and said he was always ready to cooperate in the investigating agency and would honour every direction of the courts.

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Bhattal, farmers meet Sonia Gandhi
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 12
Former Punjab Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal today said tomorrow’s function where she would formally take over as PCC chief would be converted into “thanksgiving rally” to appreciate the Centre’s announcement of hiking the MSP.

Bhattal today met Congress president Sonia Gandhi alongside farmers from the state to express gratitude for recent announcements by the Centre concerning the farming community.

She said the hike in MSP of wheat will benefit farmers of the state to the tune of Rs 3,750 crore while the bonus for paddy would boost their income by Rs 2,000 crore.

The PCC chief said the hike in MSP of wheat was “unprecedented” and was far more than what was done by the NDA government.

She said the SAD-BJP government in the state should announce a bonus of Rs 50 for paddy. Bhattal said the Badal government should fulfil its promises to the provide food at cheap rates to the poor. Several senior state Congress leaders were also present at the time of the meeting.

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Gujarat Poll
Modi to remain BJP’s chief ministerial candidate: Rajnath
Shahira Naim
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, October 12
Dismissing dissident activity in the Gujarat unit BJP national president Rajnath Singh today declared that Narendra Modi would remain the party’s chief ministerial candidate during the forthcoming election.

Addressing a press conference at the party headquarters Rajnath Singh downplayed the heightened dissident activity in Gujarat by stating that he had already issued an appeal to state leaders to remain united and work together.

Responding to a question regarding the main election issues in Gujarat Rajnath Singh said the Vidhan Sabha election would be fought on “positive achievements of the state” as according to him “Modi had managed to build Gujarat into a model state.”

In his first visit to Uttar Pradesh since the installation of the Mayawati government, he refused to comment on its performance. “We should give it some more time and see if it effectively improves the law and order situation and addresses the problems of the sugarcane farmers”, he said.

Lashing out at the Congress-led UPA government and the Left allies, he said they were treating national politics like “corporate infighting” causing instability and uncertainty in the country and precipitating the chances of a mid-term poll.

He also censured the Left Front for “not being honest’ in its criticism of the Indo-US nuclear deal. “If they were genuinely against the deal then they should have supported our demand for a joint parliamentary committee on the issue”, he said.

Terming the present central government as a complete failure on all fronts he said even the political will to tackle the threat of terrorism was missing. “The first thing that they did was to abolish POTA, the most effective law to address terrorism”, he maintained.

“How is this government now going to explain the death of 8,000 farmers during the past three years” asked Rajnath Singh claiming that no economist can deny that the NDA was a much better bet for the nation.

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Doubts over CEC’s fairness in Gujarat poll

New Delhi, October 12
A petition was filed in the Supreme Court today alleging that Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) N. Gopalaswamy had a friendly nexus with Gujarat CM Narendra Modi and he should be ‘restrained’ from the Assembly election schedule.

The petition was moved as a PIL under the Article 32 of the Constitution by Gujarat Mukti Vahini through its president Manzoor Ali Khan. It has named the union ministry of home, CEC Gopalaswamy and the Election Commission as respondents. — OC

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Rizwanur Death Case
Cops to be punished only after probe: Basu
Subhrangshu Gupta/TNS

Kolkata, October 12
Police officials involved in the mysterious death of a young graphic designer, Rizwanur Raham, will not be punished till the judicial inquiry ordered into the case is over, veteran CPI (M) leader Jyoti Basu told mediapersons at CPI (M)’s Alimuddin Street party office today.

Rizwanur, who had got married to Priya, a Hindu girl, under the Special Marriage Act had been allegedly tortured physically and mentally by the policemen. This was done to get the two separated. It is alleged that the policemen also tortured Rizwanur’s family members.

Basu admitted the Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya had ‘misinformed’ him that the accused police officials of Lalbazar would be penalised and accordingly Basu conveyed this to the reporters.

Basu said the CM had told him that he had reversed the decision and decided that neither the police chief nor any other policemen would be penalised till the judicial inquiry was over.

Regarding the judicial probe, former Congress (l) CM Siddhartha Sankar Ray alleged that no legal procedure was followed in ordering the judicial inquiry conducted by former Calcutta High Court Judge Aloke Chakraborty and hence his report could not be accepted legally.

Ray alleged that neither the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court nor the high court had been consulted before appointing the retired Judge Chakraborty to probe Rizwanur’s death. The inquiry was also not ordered under the Commission of Enquiry Act.

Accordingly, Ray wrote twice to the Chief Minister advising him to rectify the mistake and order afresh the judicial probe, which, however, was ignored.

Bhattacharya said today that he wanted to meet Rizwanur’s mother, a meeting, to which she had initially agreed. But suddenly she said she would not meet the CM. The CM said he did not know why she had changed her mind.

Trinamool Congress leader, Mamata Banerjee, however, criticised the CM of playing dirty politics over the killing of Rizwanur, alleging that he had been employing double standards by protecting the corrupt policemen. She accused the CM of acting like a dictator.

Rizwanur and Priya, both adults, got married on August 18 under the Special Marriage Act. Priya’s father Ashoke Todi, a big businessman, did not approve of this.

After failing to persuade the two to separate Todi allegedly went to the police chief Prasun Mukherjee and asked him to get his daughter back home.

Accordingly, both Rizwanur and Priya were summoned to Lalbazar and the local police station more than once. The police allegedly asked them to get separated, which neither Priya nor Rizwanur agreed to.

Then the police allegedly threatened Rizwanur with dire consequences. On September 22, Rizwanur’s body was discovered on the railway track near Dum Dum railway station. The following day the APDR spokesman, Sujata Bhadra came out with a statement signed by Rizwanur on September 20 alleging that he had received threats and accordingly he was seeking the APDR’s protection.

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Corrupt or Clean ?
YSR set to order probe into own, Naidu assets
Ramesh Kandula
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, October 12
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S Rajasekhara Reddy is set to create a judicial history of sorts by ordering an inquiry into the assets of his family and that of his bete noire and opposition leader N.Chandrababu Naidu.

The Chief Minister is consulting his close aides and legal experts on the pros and cons of instituting a judicial probe into the properties owned by him and Naidu in a bid to come clean on the charges of corruption being levelled by the Opposition.

Official sources said a retired High Court judge will be asked to head the inquiry commission which will look into the properties acquired by the families of both the leaders since 1978 when they started their political career together.

"We are in the process of finalising the terms of reference for the inquiry commission. An official announcement in this regard will be made in a couple of days," sources said.

The judicial probe, if fructifies, will be the first such instance in the history of the state involving a serving Chief Minister and his predecessor. The decision climaxes a bitter war of words between the two leaders, who have been trading mutual charges of corruption. It all began with the TDP president alleging that Chief Minister had become an epitome of corruption “earning Rs one crore per hour” ever since he took over the reins of the state three-and-half years ago.

Reddy responded with an offer to subject himself to a judicial probe and challenged Naidu to agree for the same. The Opposition leader picked up the gauntlet and said he was ready for any inquiry.

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SC rejects Geelani’s plea
Parliament Attack Case
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, October 12
The Supreme Court today dismissed the petition of city college lecturer S.A.R Geelani for expunging apex court’s stinging remarks against him in the order upholding his acquittal in the Parliament attack case due to lack of evidence with the observation that his role was “suspicious”.

Geelani’s counsel Ram Jethmalani sought expunging the remarks, claiming that his client was innocent and once he was acquitted by the Delhi High Court, and the order was upheld by the apex court, such observation in the judgement was not warranted.

But a Bench of Justices P.P. Naolekar and Lokesshwar Singh Panta was not impressed with the argument of Jethmalani and rejected his plea.

The apex court had said though there was no concrete evidence to prove the involvement of Geelani in the Parliament attack conspiracy, as was alleged by the police, but his movements during the relevant period was not above “suspicion”.

The trial court had awarded him death sentence along with the other two convicts Mohd Afzal Guru and Shaukat Hussain Guru for hatching conspiracy with five Pakistani terrorist who were gunned down by security forces when they attacked Parliament House on December 13, 2001.

But the high court had acquitted him not finding the prosecution evidence sufficient enough to prove his involvement in the conspiracy. The apex court had upheld the acquittal order with raising doubts over his suspicious conduct.

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Court stays telecast of serial on Veerappan
Arup Chanda
Tribune News Service

Chennai, October 12
The television serial on forest brigand and sandal wood smuggler Veerappan, which was to be telecast from Monday, has been stayed by a city civil court today.

The telecast of the serial named “Sandhanakkaadu” meaning sandalwood forest has been stayed by the Sixth Additional City Civil Court till October 26 following an appeal by Muthulakshmi, Veerappan’s widow.

She requested that the serial on her slain husband was likely to generate fresh controversies and cause trauma for her two teenage daughters studying in a school here.

The serial got a green signal from the Madras High Court after Muthulakshmi’s earlier petition was dismissed and the serial was to be aired on Makkal TV, a television channel controlled by the Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK), from October 15.

Muthulakhsmi’s lawyer, N. Manoharan said she filed an appeal on the grounds that telecast of the serial would invade her and her children’s privacy.

In her appeal, Muthulakshmi stated, “After Veerappan’s killing on October 18 (2004), his

family is trying to forget the earlier episodes in their lives. At this stage, if a serial on Veerappan is telecast, the family would have to face a lot of humiliation again.”

The lawyer said, “Infringement of right to privacy has already been recognised by the Supreme Court. So the city civil court prima facie considered the merits of the case and granted the injunction.”

After the director of the serial, V. Gowthaman, announced the date of the telecast last week, Muthulakshmi had protested and alleged that he had secretly taped the conversation between them and used it without her permission in the serial.

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Baradei warns against tight timeline
Rajeev Sharma/TNS

New Delhi, October 12
The Manmohan Singh government got a shot in the arm from none other than IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei who said it was in India’s interest to seal the Indo-US nuclear deal at the earliest. But he also warned that India was up against a tight timeline to finalise its safeguards negotiations with the IAEA so that the US could move the Nuclear Suppliers Group by mid-November for allowing India global nuclear commerce.

ElBaradei, an Egyptian, also sought to scotch misapprehensions about India signing an additional safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) when he said signing an India-specific safeguards agreement with the IAEA was “no rocket science” as 180 other countries had done the same already.

ElBaradei, while speaking at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit here, described the safeguards agreement as a “non-issue” as it was a standard procedure that the UN nuclear energy has done with 180 countries.

The IAEA chief said the 123 agreement would give India “independence” to make full use of nuclear energy, end India’s nuclear isolation and put India at the centre of global efforts to rid the world of nuclear weapons. The deal would give India more freedom to achieve energy security and freedom to make use of state-of-the-art technologies, he added.

He complimented India for having pursued an independent foreign policy which he felt was not going to change. He also stressed that the India-specific safeguards negotiations have taken into account India’s nuclear weapon programme and safeguards would only cover the civilian nuclear reactors as opposed to the military programme according to the separation plan outlined by New Delhi.

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‘UP govt partial in allowing use of venue’

Lucknow, October 12
Samajwadi Party president Mulayam Singh Yadav announced on Friday that a meeting of the party’s national executive would be convened soon.

He also charged the state government of being partial in denying SP the permission to hold its workers’ meet at the Laxman Mela grounds in the state capital on October 24.

He called the rally of the ruling Bahujan Samaj Party as being government-sponsored. He said while SP had been denied use of the venue till November, the administration had forced school buses to take BSP rallyists to its meet.

Yadav was speaking at a programme organised on the 41st death anniversary of socialist ideologue Ram Manohar Lohia. “Now we will hold the national executive soon.” — TNS

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Centre asks Rajasthan to strengthen security
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 12
The Centre today asked the Rajasthan government to take all possible steps to strengthen security in and around the highly-revered sufi shrine of Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti at Ajmer, where a bomb blast last evening killed two and injured over 28 people.

Union home secretary Madhukar Gupta, who held a telephonic discussion with the director general of police of Rajasthan today, took stock of the steps taken by the state government to prevent any further untoward incident, official sources said.

The DGP informed the home secretary that the state government has held consultation with the dargah committee and others concerned in this regard.

DGP informed that an SIT had been constituted to investigate the blast and it would co-ordinate closely with other central and state agencies.

A post blast investigation team of the NSG reached Ajmer to ascertain the exact nature and type of device used in the blast.

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Four new judges for Punjab & Haryana HC
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, October 12
President Pratibha Patil has issued orders for the appointment of four Additional Judges in the Punjab and Haryana High Court and one in the Jammu and Kashmir High Court.

The Judges appointed in the Punjab and Haryana High Court are - Mohinder Pal, Harbans Lal, Sham Sunder and Karam Chand Puri - a Law Ministry spokesman said here today.

Their appointment initially will be for a period of two years and it will be effective from the day they take oath of office.

Justice Jai Pal Singh is the lone new appointee for the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir and his appointment will be effective from October 4.

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Id-ul-Fitr tomorrow

New Delhi, October 12
Id will be celebrated in the country on Sunday. This was announced by Mufti Mohd Mukkaram Ahmed, Shahi Imam of Delhi’s Fatehpuri Masjid, after a meeting of the Ruyat-e-Hilal Committee here tonight.

The new moon of Id-ul-Fitr has not been sighted today and the committee declared that the first “Shawwalu Mukaram” will be on Sunday, a spokesperson of the committee said.

The devout Muslims are observing fast since September 12. — PTI

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Ajmer Blast
Security beefed up in TN
Tribune News Service

Chennai, October 12
Security at all religious places in Tamil Nadu has been beefed up in view of forthcoming festivals of Id-ul-Fitr, Durga Puja and Diwali in the wake of yesterday’s blast at dargah in Ajmer.

The police said vigil was being maintained at 394 mosques and 124 dargahs in this metropolis.

Security has been tightened in and around the famous Meenakshi temple in Madurai and the temple at Rameswaram in southern Tamil Nadu, which draw lakhs of pilgrims from all over the country during this period.

Armed policemen with sniffer dogs are on patrol at important railway stations and metal detectors have been installed at public places.

After the twin blasts in Hyderabad, there were reports that terrorists might strike in this state capital.

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CBI nabs absconding mutual fund scamster
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 12
The CBI has arrested a promoter of M/s INCAN Mutual Fund Benefit Ltd, Lucknow, and its group companies for his alleged involvement in duping unsuspecting investors in Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh to the tune of Rs 72 crore.

The accused Manjit Singh Aujla, who was on the run since 2003, was arrested on October 9 from Pune, where he was residing incognito. He was produced before the court at Lucknow today and was remanded in judicial custody, a CBI press note said here today.

Several cases have been registered against Aujla and his associates in different police stations in Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh for siphoning off huge sums of money collected by them from individual investors with assurances of the returns upto 40 per cent per annum in the various schemes launched by their company between 1991 to 1998.

According to the CBI, this company had opened branches at different locations in UP, Haryana, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh to collect deposits.

The accused and his associates, who closed down the branches and went into hiding siphoned off the money, the CBI said.

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