Former UP Minister Gayatri Prajapati. (File Photo)
New Delhi: The CBI is conducting searches at 22 locations, including three residential premises of former Uttar Pradesh minister Gayatri Prajapati, in connection with an illegal mining case, officials said Wednesday.
His three houses in Amethi were part of the search operation which is spread over 11 locations in Hamirpur district in the state and several other places in Delhi and National Capital Region (NCR), they said.
Prajapati held the mining portfolio in the Akhilesh Yadav government and he is considered an influential Samajwadi Party leader.
He is currently in jail in a rape case. A woman from Chitrakoot had alleged that the minister exploited her on the promise of allotting her a mining lease, but he denied the charge.
The searches were also conducted at the residence of former Samajwadi Party MP Ghanshyam Anuragi in Jalaun. Anuragi was the member of 15th Lok Sabha from Jalaun in Uttar Pradesh.
In addition, two locations in Delhi, one in Ghaziabad, four in Lucknow and 11 in Hamirpur were covered in the search operation.
"It was alleged that public servants in criminal conspiracy with other accused allowed illegal mining of minor minerals in district Hamirpur (UP) during the period 2012-2016," CBI spokesperson Nitin Wakankar said.
Minor minerals are sand, gravel, etc.
He said they had illegally granted fresh leases for mining of sand, renewed existing leases and permitted "obstructed period" to the existing leaseholders causing a wrongful loss to the government exchequer and undue gain to themselves.
Wakankar said other persons were allegedly allowed to excavate minor minerals illegally, to commit theft of minor minerals and to extort money from leaseholders as well as from the drivers of vehicles transporting minor minerals.
They said IAS officer B Chandrakala is also named as accused in the case registered by the CBI. Videos of her lashing out at government officials had earned her a title of 'Lady Dabang'.
The UP cadre IAS officer of 2008-batch was the district magistrate of Hamirpur during 2012-14 when she allegedly violated an e-tender system of allotting mining contracts in her district, the FIR said.
Yadav, who was the chief minister of the state between 2012 and 2017 and held the mining portfolio during 2012-13, is also under the scanner, according to the FIR.
He was succeeded by Prajapati, who took charge as the mining minister in 2013. He was arrested in 2017.
This is a third FIR pertaining to illegal mining cases registered by the CBI on January 2, 2019, nearly two-and-a-half years after the agency was directed by the Allahabad High Court to probe the issue. It had carried out first searches after the FIR was filed.
On July 28, 2016, the CBI was directed by the high court to probe illegal mining in the state following which it had registered seven preliminary enquiries out of which two pertaining to Shamli and Kaushambi districts were converted into FIRs in 2017.