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Ulta Chor Kotwal Ko Daante -- Indicted IAS Officer, Pradeep Sharma’s Counter Offensive against Narendra Modi PART 1

Author: Madhu Purnima Kishwar
Publication: Manushi.in
URL: http://www.manushi.in/articles.php?articleId=1738#.Up7AqeXBH5n

In addition to Gujarat IPS officers Sanjeev Bhatt and Shreekumar, Pradeep Narayan Sharma and Kuldip Narayan Sharma have emerged as key hatchet men of the Congress Party & its allies to level wild and motivated allegations against Narendra Modi.

Pradeep Sharma is in the news these days because this Gujarat Government suspended IAS officer with several criminal cases against him which landed him in jail has tried to falsely implicate Modi in a sex scandal with the very same woman who Sharma himself is alleged to have sexually exploited! Her father has admitted in letters released to the press that he had to plead with the Chief Minister to provide “protection” to his daughter. (The Indian Express, 17 November2013) Interestingly, the father’s letter avoids mentioning Pradeep Sharma but Sharma has himself gone to town advertising both in his petition to the Supreme Court as well as in numerous TV interviews that he had relations with the young woman and her family!( Of this more later).

Pradeep Narayan Sharma joined the Gujarat Administrative Service in 1981 and was promoted to the IAS cadre in the year 1994. I heard from various people in Gujarat including senior bureaucrats that Pradeep Sharma was a great favorite of former Congress chief ministers. That even today he is acting at the behest of the Congress party is evident from the fact that the press conference organized by web portals Cobra post & Gulailin which they released unauthenticated taped conversations between Amit Shah, former Minister of State for Home Gujarat, and IPS officer G.L. Singhal regarding Pradeep Sharma’s surveillance was attended by prominent members of Sonia Gandhi’s National Advisory Council (NAC), including Aruna Roy.

As soon as this press conference was over, senior Congress leaders and ministers began a concerted chorus asking for Modi’s arrest and trial, even though both the charges and the evidence put forward by the Cobrapost & Gulail combine was bizarre beyond belief. The wild charge was that Modi was having an affair with a young woman architect and in his “obsession” with the said woman he had used state intelligence agencies to snoop on her through Amit Shah.

That the target is not Amit Shah’s alleged illegal instructions to Singhal but Modi himself is evident from the fact thatnot a word is exchanged between Modi and Singhal in the leaked tapes. There is reference to a “Saheb—a commonly used term for any person of status or authority—not just the chief minister. But without proving that the said “Saheb” is Modi himself, Congress ministers went ballistic saying this was Modi himself giving instructions for illegally spying on the young woman.

Pradeep Sharma’s Own Track Record

Before I analyze the contents of the “unauthenticated” tapes leaked by the CBI to Cobrapost and Gulail at the behest of the Congress party, let me provide a brief history of Pradeep Sharma’s troubles.

Ever since I started my study of post 2002 Gujarat in January 2013, I repeatedly heard extremely negative accounts of the countless misdoings and criminal acts of Pradeep Sharma,his IPS officer brother Kuldip Sharma and even their father Nirankar Nath Sharma who retired as Deputy Superintendent of Police in Gujarat. Their father had allegedly become so notorious for his greed and tyrannical ways of extorting money that he was nicknamed Nagad Narayan Sharma (meaning someone whoseonly God is Money and that too in hard cash!). The first one to tell me about the nickname “Nagad Narayan” Sharma was the former ADG of Gujarat, Mr. IA Syed.

Several people told me that for years Pradeep Sharma got away with shady and corrupt deals because of his proximity to previous chief ministers. But his luck ran out when he indulged in massive land scams and other frauds in earthquake devastated Kutch to set up his own benami business empires. He is currently out on bail; several criminal cases are going on against him in Gujarat. In order to escape trial for his misdeeds, he has sought shelter in Dilli Durbar—. He knows from experience of other rogue officers that the easiest way to get protection and support of the Congress party and its powerful allies in the NGO world is to start throwing muck at Modi. So this fugitive from Gujarat has been made into an instant hero by obliging media, especially TV channels! His equally tainted brother, former IPS officer Kuldip Sharma has also become a favorite of Dilli Durbar after fleeing Gujarat and given a unique posting in the Home Ministry as “Special Advisor”

Some of the Ongoing Criminal Cases against Pradeep Sharma

While posted as Collector in Kutch and Rajkot, Pradeep Sharma is charged with committing several criminal acts anda number of irregularities involving thousands of crores of rupees. He was arrested by the CID Crime Branchon 6 January 2010, while he was posted as Municipal Commissioner, Bhavnagar and spent over 9 months in jail, before he managed to come out on deviously procured bail.(Of this more later).

During my visit to Bhuj in mid-August 2013, several prominent citizens who I met for the first time, allegedthat Pradeep Sharma had not only misused his official position as Collector Bhuj to indulge in land scams by underhanded allotment of more than 1000 acresof land but also made money by illegal allotment of numerous shops, godowns, etc. that were actually meant to be given to earthquake victims as compensation for the loss of their property. Since Bhuj was undergoing massive reconstruction activity, Pradeep Sharma is alleged to have also gobbled up funds in other ways - by taking a cut of the contracts for removing rubble and building of new infrastructure.

My main interest at that time was to get people’s perception of post-earthquake rehabilitation efforts of the government and yet stories of his corruption and sleaze came pouring out from local people without any probing because of his widespread notoriety. For example, Pradeep Sharma’s wife and children have for years been living in the US where he sends through hawala transactions the money he continues to loot from Gujarat. (I have seen documentary proof of some of these transactions)

I heard how he was habituated to exploiting and using young women for personal ends and pleasure. He is alleged to have taken young women, including the woman architect he is now trying to palm off on to the Chief Minister- on foreign trips abroad at government expense. He had hired her as a landscape architect for creating a hill garden in Bhuj Fort which was being developed by Narendra Modi as a special tourist attraction. Even though I was not really seeking information about Pradeep Sharma, several prominent citizens of Bhuj told me in August itself, that Pradeep Sharma had made an objectionable CD of this woman for the purpose of blackmailing her.

Around 500 earthquake affected businessmen/traders etc. who were to be allotted shops, godowns etc. had filed private complaints/applications against Pradeep Sharma. In all 106 complaints/applications were received in the office of Collector Bhuj from December 2005 to January 2009 regarding irregularities and corruption in the allotment of the said land and shops. A citizen’s group named All India Anti-Corruption and Crime Preventive Council, Bhuj filed a complaint before the police alleging various irregularities in the allotment of land to bogus and undeserving beneficiaries in 2004. The police inquired into the matter and found some truth in the charges but did not file an FIR.

This reluctance on the part of the police is alleged to have beenpartly due to Pradeep Sharma’s own clout, plus due to the influence of his brother, Kuldip Sharma, who was then a senior IPS officer in Gujarat. But even more important he is alleged to have received support from Congress Party leaders who saw in this compromised officer an able ally who would in his own interest be willing to go to any length to attack Modi.

However, despite the reluctance of the police, the All India Anti-Corruption and Crime Preventive Council filed a complaint in the Chief Judicial Magistrate’s Court at Bhuj.  Among the first to complain was Narendra Kumar Mansukhlal Mehta who filed a complaint that even though his shop had been destroyed by the earthquake, Pradeep Sharma as Collector cheated him and many other genuine victims of their due compensation and gave away shops to bogus beneficiaries. Henry James Chacko, a third generation resident of Bhuj, who put together hundreds of such complaints from victims to file a comprehensive complaint against Pradeep Sharma. This is what Chacko told me about them odus operandi of Sharma:

The Gujarat Government had passed an order that the Collector was to personally visit each earthquake affected area, meet each earthquake victim and issue a G5 certificate which entitled the person to get appropriate compensation, such as new shops constructed by the government. Sharma did not do the mandatory survey and forged documents to give shops, godowns etc. to bogus beneficiaries. Till date the Collector’s office has not been able to produce any G-5 certificates issue during Pradeep Sharma’s tenure with regard to the allotted shops. Nor is there any proof that Sharma did any the required personal inspection of earthquake affected areas in order to prepare an authentic list of genuine beneficiaries of Government’s rehabilitation schemes. 

To quote from the High Court order of 3 March, 2010, denying him bail on the ground that the " nature of accusation against the applicant is very serious" and is likely to invite "severe punishment" the judges said,

"...the Government had imposed a condition that allotment could be made only to those persons who fall within the G-5 Category and a duty was cast on the Applicant to make allotment to only those persons whom he, as the Collector, issues G-5 certificates and that too after personal verification. It is the Applicants own case that he has not issued any certificate. yet he allotted land/ shops, and on what basis the allotment was made is under investigation....prior to the transfer of the Applicant, beneficiaries started placing eligibility certificates on record, which turned out to be bogus certificates. How, and by whom and in what manner the cerificates are issued is also under investigation....because it is contended that the survey register containing the names and categories of the persons depending upon the extent of damage was kept in one chamber near the chamber of the applicant and not only did Arvind Thakkar and other office bearers [ his partners-in-crime] had free access to the register even unauthorized beneficiaries were also given access illagally..." (CR.MA/604/2010 33/35, Pradeep Sharma Versus State of Gujarat)

Henry James who had compiled over 404 complaints and filed a case against Pradeep Sharma, including a petition in the High Court says:

Sharma was so brazen that on one single day—between 5 May 2006 and 6 may 2006, just a few months before his transfer out of Bhuj, he signed orders for 90 large plots of land to companies with whom he had benami dealings. This land actually belonged to Kandla Port Trust but due to rapid industrialization this salt pan land acquired high value. He fudged papers to undervalue the land and sold it away even though there was a stay order on the sale of this property. A collector does not have the power to allot more than 99 meters per person. But he cooked up false documents and took over large chunks of land for allotment to companies with whom he had worked out deals.

In November 2011, he used his influence with another IAS officer who had come in as the Collector of Kutch to register a lot of people from other states he put up as dummies as owners/partners of these companies, while he is the main owner. All these were supposed to be industrial plots, but Sharma made large warehouses on that land and rented them out to shipping companies. Even today he earns crores of rupees as rent from these illegally acquired lands and warehouses.

Chacko says since he was pursuing cases against Sharma, he even received written complaints from Late Arvind Gadvi about Sharma’s illicit relationship with the woman architect. For a list of Pradeep Sharma's illegally acquired properties released through a White Paper of the Government of Gujarat see Times of India Report of 11 january 2010 Click Here

Criminal Cases Filed against Pradeep Sharma

As a result of citizens action, on 5.11.2007 the Chief Judicial Magistrate Bhuj issued an order to CID to file a case against Sharma. On the basis of the complaint filed in the Chief Judicial Magistrate’s Court, Bhuj, the CID Crime, Rajkot registered an offence in Case Register No. 1/2008 including the following sections of the IPC:

Section 206- Fraudulent removal or concealment of property to prevent its seizure as forfeited or in execution. (Imprisonment of two years or with fine)

Section 217-Public servant disobeying direction of law with intent to save person from punishment or property from forfeiture. (Imprisonment may extend to two years or with fine)

Section 465- Forgery. (Imprisonment for two years or with fine)

Section 468- Forgery for purpose of cheating. (Imprisonment for seven years, and also liable to fine)

Section 471- Using as genuine a forged document.

Section 472- Making or possessing counterfeit seal, etc., with intent to commit forgery. (Imprisonment for 7 years or life and be liable to fine)

Section 474- Having possession of a document described in section 466 or 467, knowing it to be forged and intending to use it as genuine. (Imprisonment for life or with imprisonment for a term which may extend to seven years, and be liable to fine)

Section 475- Counterfeiting device or mark used for authenticating documents described in section 467, or possessing counterfeit marked material. (Imprisonment for life or with imprisonment for a term which may extend to seven years, and liable to fine)

Section 484- Counterfeiting a mark used by a public servant. (Imprisonment for three years, and liable to fine)

Section 120 B- Criminal conspiracy to commit an offence punishable with death.

 When several such cases were registered by the C.I.D.(Crime)], Pradeep Sharma filed a petition before the Gujarat High Court seeking directions to transfer the investigation to an “independent” agency like the C.B.I.  But his request was turned down.

He was arrested on 6 January 2010, while he was Municipal Commissioner, Bhavnagar. Pradeep Sharma’s bail applications in various criminal cases were repeatedly rejected in the lower courts as well as in the High Court of Gujarat. Chacko’s lawyer, Mr. PR Patel provided the following details: On January 12, Sharma applied for bail. Both the lower court as well as High Court rejected his bail application. He was in jail till November 2010 when his contacts in Delhi managed to get him bail from the Supreme Court.         

 One of the reasons the Gujarat High Court took a firm stand against his bail is that the police had found solid evidence of his plans to flee the country. To quote The Indian Express (Ahmedabad edition) report on 25 June 2011:

Was Gujarat-cadre IAS officer Pradeep Sharma, who is behind bars in connection with a slew of corruption  and illegal land allotment cases in Kutch district, planning to take asylum abroad?

If evidence reportedly found in his laptop seized from a Delhi hotel is anything to go by, Sharma was trying to obtain a duplicate passport.

The recovery of the laptop and the evidence sourced from it by the officials of the Directorate of Forensic Science(DFS) was one of the reasons considered by the Gujarat High Court while refusing him bail recently in a graft case registered against him by the state CID (Crime).

In his judgment denying bail to Sharma, Justice J B Pardiwala says: "I... cannot ignore the fact that certain items like laptop, mobile phone, deed of conveyance, etc, were recovered from the possession of the accused-applicant from the said hotel in New Delhi. As per the report of the Directorate of Forensic Science laboratory, Gandhinagar, there were some chats on the laptop relating to obtaining another passport, seeking asylum option, etc".

Incidentally, the state CID (Crime) had moved an application in a Rajkot court last week, seeking permission to collect Sharma's DNA samples, saying he might flee India on a fake passport. The CID had even submitted that Sharma might undergo plastic surgery to change his appearance.

At present, Sharma is an accused in a number of cases registered against him in connection with illegal land allotment to private companies as Kutch District Collector.

Sharma was granted bail by the Supreme Court in the first case registered against him. After that, on February 14 this year, he was arrested by the Gujarat Police from a hotel in Delhi. He had allegedly rented a room in the hotel, Southern Regency, introducing himself as Paramjit Singh Sandhu of Punjab. As identity proof, Sharma had allegedly produced a fake driving licencewith the same name but having his photograph. The police had seized a laptop from him, which was sent to the DFS.

"The tendency which the accused-applicant has displayed has shaken the confidence of this court. It is difficult to come to a prima facie conclusion that he would be available for trial. Serious apprehension of accused fleeing from justice has been expressed, more particularly, keeping in mind his position and status in the society and the resources available with the accused-applicant," the HC observed while rejecting Sharma's bail application.

It is noteworthy that the bail Pradeep Sharma got from the Supreme Court in November 2010was on false pretense and “conditional. Apart from having to offer 3 bail bonds of Rs 5 lakh each, he has suppressed a vital piece ofinformation from the Supreme Court that all the case reports under section 173 of Cr.PC 197 are already filed before the competent jurisdictional courts with voluminous evidence establishing criminal charges leveled against him.

The conditions of bail included the following:
* Sharma cannot enter Kutch without court permission except to appear in court;
* He has to go and mark monthly attendance in the CID court of a neighboring district which has been assigned to him as his headquarter;

* He cannot leave Gujarat without the permission of the CID or court.

However, given his powerful backing Sharma has breached all the above three conditions of bail. He has moved to Delhi and is indulging in more and criminal acts of which his petition to the Supreme Court is the latest example.

Because Pradeep Sharma knows that the evidence against him is extremely strong, he filed a petition in the Supreme Court “seeking the transfer of the four FIRs lodged against him, from the Gujarat State Police Crime Branch to an independent investigative agency, i.e. the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)”, an agency which has been described by no less than the Supreme Court of India as a “caged parrot” and repeatedly castigated for serving the partisan ends of the current Congress led UPA Government.

Pradeep Sharma claims in this petition that he has been “victimized and implicated in the said FIRs due to the personal animosity, malice and malafide of the State Government at the behest of the Chief Minister, Narendra Modi”. He says he is victimized for the following reasons:
* He is the brother of the IPS officer Kuldip Sharma who has also fallen foul of the State Government. (A fact sheet on Kuldip Sharma will follow soon.)

* He has “knowledge of the intimacy shared by Mr. Narendra Modi with a young lady architect” who he admits to have introduced to Narendra Modi.

When he first filed the case in Supreme Court, it was so intemperate that the Supreme Court lambasted him for making wild charges against Modi. To quote a report from The Times of India dated 13 May, 2011:

A bench comprising Justices Aftab Alam and R M Lodha came down hard on Sharma and ordered removal of the offensive portions from his petition, in which the state government, Modi, the Centre and the CBI are respondents.

Sharma alleged that he and his brother Kuldip Sharma, the senior-most police officer in the state, earned the ire of the BJP government, in particular of Modi and former home minister Amit Shah, because Kuldip refused to oblige the establishment in the probe into sensitive cases relating to the Sohrabuddin fake encounter, fake human trafficking case against Mallika Sarabhai and several extortion cases.

Sharma, facing four criminal cases relating to administrative decisions taken by him while officiating as the district collector of Bhuj, claimed that the state government was venting the ire directed against his brother on him. He claimed to have knowledge of Modi's personal life.

When the bench of Justices Alam and Lodha expressed displeasure over the wild allegations, Sharma's counsel senior advocate Colin Gonsalves said the petitioner did not intend to press them.But, the bench said, "You cannot raise averments in your petition like this and later say the pleadings are not being pressed. Either you stand by it or strike it off. We will not permit such character assassination.” The court ordered deletion of the allegations, issued notice on the petition and posted it for further hearing in July.

If such Supreme Court judges had to ask Pradeep Sharma to delete baseless slander from his petition, one can well imagine how outrageous it must have been.

On 19 November, 2013, Pradeep Sharma filed a fresh petition in the Supreme Court but this time backed by a full-fledged media campaign, long T.V interviews by pliant T.V channels letting him repeat wild allegations against Modi- all evidently backed by the Dirty Tricks Department of the Congress led UPA Government. It is pertinent to point out that Pradeep Sharma’s brother Gujarat Police officer Kuldip Sharma after retirement has been appointed by the UPA Government as “Special Advisor” to the Home Ministry in Delhi despite ongoing criminal cases against him.

It is to be seen if the media blitz works in favour of Sharma or boomerangs on him when the case comes up for hearing.

When an honest officer like Durga Shakti got fired by the Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party government in UP, prominent citizens of the state, the IAS Officers Association and respected retired officers rose in her defense. But neither a single respected citizen of Gujarat nor the IAS Association, either in Gujarat or anywhere else has come out to defend Pradeep Sharma when he was arrested and jailed, even though he is the first and only Gujarat government IAS officer to have been suspended and jailed. This in itself speaks volumes for the credibility of Pradeep Sharma.

Each of Gujarat state’s officers who has been caught in any kind of scam or abuse of power, wants his cases to be transferred to the CBI and brought to the Supreme Court because in Delhi they are assured that the Congress Party led UPA government will arm twist the central agencies to not only save them from punishment but also project them as martyrs and heroes being targeted by a supposedly demonic Modi.


TIMES OF INDIA Report on the Arrest of Pradeep Sharma

"Real estate penchant of arrested IAS officer, says 'white paper'
TNN Jan 11, 2010, 03.07am IST

AHMEDABAD: The arrest of senior IAS officer, Pradip Sharma, seems to have opened a pandora's box full of allegations and accusations pointing toward bogus land deals and disproportionate assests.
Bhavnagar municipal commisioner Pradip Sharma was arrested on January 6 in connection with the Bhuj earthquake market rehabilitation scam. The CID (crime) officials are now digging into the matter. Joining the cops in their investigations informally' are several voluntary agencies that accuse Sharma of amassing disproportionate assets'.

A white paper was issued by these groups that accuse Sharma of being part of several business and land deals in Ahmedabad, Gandhidham, Mundra and Bhachau. Valuation of assets, listed in the white paper, totals up to property worth Rs 150 crore. The white paper alleged: Sharma has stakes in real estate companies, transport companies in Kutch, earns rent incomes from flats, owns a warehouse and is also a partner in a hotel in Gandhidham. It was in November 2007, when on a complaint filed by secretary of All India Anti-corruption  and Crime Prevention Council Henry James Chacko an enquiry was ordered into the earthquake rehabilitation scheme for conspiracy, forgery and misuse of government office. The wholesale grain market building in Bhuj had collapsed in the earthquake on January 26, 2001. After the quake, Gujarat government had decided to allot shops built on a 17,000-sq-metre plot at the same site. The plots were alloted for pittance to non-beneficiaries allegedly on fake G-5 certificates.

Chako alleged that Sharma, who was then collector of Kutch, had deliberately ignored many applications of quake-hit people. The applications had pointed towards gross irregularities in land allotment. The white paper alleges that the accused owns 440 acres of land in Mithirohar village in Gandhidham and Chirai village in Bachau taluka.
This is being probed by the investigators, said sources. Sharma allegedly earns Rs 15.14 lakh every month as rent for a warehouse that he owns. The white paper claimed that he also owns a flat in Bageshree and Ratnakar Vatika socities in Ahmedabad. Besides these plots, land holdings in Gandhinagar, Bopal, Koba, Dehgam, Mundra are also being probed, said sources.

Allegations made in the white paper about disproportionate assets:

* Owns a flat in Bageshree, Ahmedabad, gets a monthly rent of Rs 14,000
* Owns a land in Ratnakar Vatika, Ahmedabad
* Owns a piece of land in Bopal, Ahmedabad
* Owns a piece of land in Koba, Ahmedabad
* Owns a piece of land in Dehgam, Ahmedabad district
* Owns land in Hari Om builders, Lekawada
* Owns 250 acres of land in Mithirohar village, Gandhidham
* Owns a land in Mundra
* Associated with hotel Kandla Inn at Gandhidham
* Owns a plot measuring 7,000 square metre
* Owns plots in Mithirohar - survey number 203/1 and 203/2
* Owns a warehouse and earns Rs 15 lakh rent
* Owns 190 acre of land in Moti Chirai village of Bhachau, Kutch
* Investments in Well Spun company at Anjar, Kutch
* Partnership in Ratan Transport, Gandhidham

* Owns land in Surat
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