Why note ban ‘scams’ not probed, asks Congress (Lead)
New Delhi, April 17 (IANS) The Congress on Wednesday described demonetisation as the “biggest scam” of the country and alleged that it “may have helped criminals to monetise by looting the treasury and the poor”.
Addressing a press conference here, senior Congress leader and former Union Minister Kapil Sibal accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of “sleeping” and not ordering probe to uncover “the loot”.
“Demonetisation is the biggest scam of the country,” Sibal said while slamming the November 2016 decision of the Modi government to ban currency of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 denomination.
“Why was the ‘chowkidar’ asleep when all this happened? The absence of an investigation suggests that those involved in this loot are being protected. Those who have collaborated with corruption cannot pretend to be clean,” said a statement issued by the Congress.
The statement said that Congress’ “expose” on April 9 had spoken of alleged role of Rahul Ratharekar, a field assistant, and sought to prove his identity through his identity card, which was purportedly seen in the video. He said the “expose” also talked of involvement of a banker.
Sibal said the Cabinet Secretariat issued a statement soon afterwards, saying that Ratharekar had been its constable-level employee and was dismissed in June 2017 “on suspicion of his role in exchange of old currency notes, post demonetisation”.
The party said that the statement “clearly demonstrates” that the expose made by the party on the scam on March 26 and April 9 were genuine and the events seen in the video reflected the manner in which these exchanges took place.
“The involvement of government functionaries, bankers and state authorities clearly demonstrate a conspiracy to loot the treasury in a manner never seen before… Who in the chain was responsible for this loot? It requires a thorough investigation, which this government has failed to do despite knowledge of this scam,” Sibal said.
“It seems that the official machinery was actively participating in this huge scam and in the process enriching themselves,” the former Minister alleged.
He said a video was shown on March 26 with reference to the “exchange of monies in Gujarat which proved the linkage between the scam and those close to the BJP”.
“It is a matter of shame that despite the expose in which the opposition parties participated, no steps have been taken by the government to investigate these matters,” Sibal alleged.
“It is unthinkable that crores of cash in the form of currency notes of Rs 2,000 denomination could have been available without the active collaboration of members of the treasury and those hoarding these notes for the purposes of making the exchange and earning commissions through such exchanges,” the lawyer-politician said.
Posing questions to the BJP, he asked why no FIR had been lodged, nor investigations started to “find the identity of those involved in the exchange of currency notes, post demonetisation in Gujarat?”
The party also asked why Ratharekar was not arrested and investigated at the time when he was dismissed from service.
“What was the evidence with the government on the basis of which they suspected Ratharekar’s involvement in the alleged money exchange? Was a show-cause notice issued to him before the dismissal? Why were the activities of Rathareka not fully investigated?”
Sibal showed a new video purportedly from Maharashtra relating to currency exchange and said it makes “demonetisation scam a matter of national shame”.
He alleged that an investigative journalist handed over presentation of smart city projects followed by a discussion on exchange of currency notes worth Rs 300 crore in the presence of a BJP worker in the Mantrayala building in Mumbai in 2017.
Answering a query, he said the BJP is flooded with money and the opposition was facing drought. “Those facing the drought are being targeted. This is the record of this government,” he said.