One month after the Karnataka CM ordered for a probe into the scam, the Lokayukta is yet to receive any official nod, says Imran Khan
EVEN A month after Karnataka Chief Minister DV Sadananda Gowda ordered a probe into the Rs 2 lakh crore Wakf land scam, no progress has been made so far. The investigating agency, Lokayukta, denies having received any official communication. On the other hand, State Minorities Commission Chairman Anwar Manippady, who brought out the 7,000-page damning report on the scam, insists that a government order has been issued.
On 26 March, Manippady created ripples in Karnataka political circles with his report, which claimed that powerful Muslim politicians, several Wakf Board members, Wakf officials, builders and real estate mafia are involved in usurping land donated to the board for social and charitable causes.
It was for the first time that a government agency had taken names of prominent Muslim politicians (mostly belonging to the Congress) and bureaucrats responsible for the sale of prime Wakf land meant for the underprivileged.
What startled many observers was the size of the scam: Rs 2 lakh crore (rivalling the 2G scam). The Opposition parties immediately termed the report as an attempt on the part of the BJP government to disenchant Muslim voters, ahead of the 2013 Assembly polls.
But a defiant chief minister announced in the Assembly on 21 May that, “every inch of the land would be recovered”. Though Gowda ordered a Lokayukta probe, the agency denies having received any notification. “We haven’t received any official communication in that regard,” says Lokayukta Additional Director General of Police HN Satyanarayan Rao.
WHEN TEHELKA quizzed Manippady about it, he was quick to produce a copy of the order issued by the Department of Minority Welfare to prove his case. The order dated 4 June (which is in possession of TEHELKA) shows that Nisar Ahmad of the department had ordered for an inquiry. Manippady lays the blame for the delay in investigation on two bureaucrats: Mohammed Sanaulla, Secretary, Department of Personnel and Administrative Reforms; and Syed Zameer Ahmed Pasha, Secretary, Department of Minority Welfare.
Manippady claims he has clinching evidence to prove that Sanaulla and Pasha connived to stall the investigations. A day before the submission of the report, Pasha was photographed along with Congress leader and Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha K Rehman Khan at a press conference held on 24 March by the latter to demand an end to political intervention in the state Wakf Board; Khan is one of the many named in Manippady’s report. Manippady claims that a day before the press meet, Pasha was in his office. “He went through the report and even congratulated us for our efforts,” he says. The picture of Pasha along with Khan appeared in the Sunday edition of daily Salar on 25 March.
Manippady has written to the chief secretary and Assembly Speaker and sought action against Pasha for leaking the report. Recently, Pasha’s house was raided by the Lokayukta and unaccounted assets worth Rs 3.4 crore were recovered.
“The bureaucrats even manipulated the government to issue an order wherein a committee comprising IAS officers was formed to look into the report and submit their findings in four months. I managed to stop it,” says Manippady. When pressed, he maintains silence as to how the bureaucrats were able to wrest the order from Gowda, when the chief minister himself had ordered for a probe. However, Manippady says he will not sit quiet till the probe is completed. “I have received the full backing of the Sangh Parivar,” he says.
Imran Khan is a Senior Correspondent with Tehelka.