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CBI books former Samajwadi Party MP Ateeq Ahmad for extortion of businessman

Hansaria had also said eight cases pending investigation were registered against Ahmad between 2015 and 2019, of which two were murder cases.

PTI | New Delhi |

The CBI has booked former MP Ateeq Ahmad and others for allegedly orchestrating the abduction of a Lucknow-based businessman from Deoria Jail to extort money from him and take over his business, officials said on Thursday.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has registered a case against Ahmad, former Samajwadi Party (SP) MP from Uttar Pradesh, on the charges of criminal conspiracy, extortion, cheating, forgery, robbery and criminal intimidation, they added.

The agency has not added the Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections related to abduction in its FIR.

According to the procedure, the CBI takes over the probe on an FIR registered by the state police without adding or deleting any charges. However, it can add or delete any charge at the time of filing its final report in court.

Real estate dealer Mohit Jaiswal was allegedly abducted from Lucknow and taken to Deoria Jail, where he was assaulted by Ahmad and his aides, who were lodged there, and forced to transfer his business to them, officials said.

Ahmad was a Samajwadi Party (SP) member in the 14th Lok Sabha from Phulpur in Uttar Pradesh from 2004 to 2009.

Jaiswal, who has a real estate business in the posh Gomti Nagar area in Lucknow, had alleged that Ahmad was threatening him for extortion for the last two years.

The businessman had said he had made some payments to Ahmad, after which the demands for money had stopped for a while, but the politician again started asking for money from him in 2018.

He had alleged that Ahmad’s goons had taken over his business forcibly by obtaining his and his sister’s digital signatures.

Even after such pressure, Jaiswal had claimed that he had not transferred any shares to them.

He had alleged that on December 26, 2018, he was taken in his own sports utility vehicle (SUV) by one of Ahmad’s goons to Deoria Jail, where the former MP was lodged.

Ahmad’s son Umar and 10-12 other gang members were also present in the jail, who beat him up, causing serious injuries to him, Jaiswal had alleged.

Four of his companies, including MJ Infra Housing Private Limited, were transferred in the name of Farooq and Zaki Ahmad, both goons of Ahmad who had been threatening him, he had alleged.

The combined assets of the firms were worth Rs 45 crore, the FIR said,

They had also taken his signatures on his company letterhead in the jail, Jaiswal had claimed.

The businessman had also alleged that Ahmad threatened him, saying he could not be killed inside the jail and hence, he was being allowed to go. But the politician had forcibly kept his SUV in the jail, Jaiswal had alleged.

The matter was handed over to the CBI by the Supreme Court, which had also ordered Ahmad’s transfer to a jail in Gujarat.

Ahmad was a five-time MLA and one-time MP. He has been in jail since February 11, 2017.

In the past, he was also associated with the Apna Dal (Sonelal).

During the hearing in the Supreme Court, the Uttar Pradesh government had confirmed the incident and said the CCTV cameras in the jail complex were tampered with at the time.

In a report submitted through senior advocate Vijay Hansaria, appointed as amicus curiae (friend of court), the state government had said departmental action against five jail officials was initiated.

Hansaria, assisted by advocate Sneha Kalita, had told the bench that jail norms were relaxed with respect to visitors meeting the former parliamentarian.

In his submission, the senior advocate had said there were 109 cases registered against Ahmad from 1979 to 2019, including 17 murder cases, 12 cases under the UP Gangster Act, eight under the Arms Act and four under the UP Goondas Act.

Hansaria had also said eight cases pending investigation were registered against Ahmad between 2015 and 2019, of which two were murder cases.

The report had said the state government had constituted two committees, which prima facie found the names of two persons, including that of Jaiswal, in the visitors’ register at Deoria Jail for meeting Ahmad.

It had added that the committees had found the jail superintendent and other prison officials guilty for the assault on the businessman, departmental proceedings were initiated against five officials and the state government had suspended three persons in this regard.

“During interrogation, the jail staff and the prisoners denied the incidence of assault in jail but the joint team found in its inquiry that some CCTV cameras set up in the jail had been tampered with and the persons meeting Ateeq Ahmad had been granted relaxation against the rule. The joint team prima facie found that the jail superintendent and the officers/employees of the jail administration to be guilty for this incident,” the report had said.