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NC Hills scam probe hits roadblock

By R Dutta Choudhury

GUWAHATI, Oct 4 � The probe into money laundering in North Cachar Hills by the Directorate of Enforcement virtually hit a roadblock as the officials of the investigating agency have not yet been able to question the two top leaders of militant outfit DHD(J), commonly known as the Black Widow group.

Highly placed official sources told The Assam Tribune that questioning of the top leaders of the DHD(J) is vital for progress of the investigation but so far the officials of the Enforcement Directorate have not been able to do so. However, the officials of the investigating agency completed the first round of questioning of the other accused of the case including Social Welfare Department officer RH Khan.

Sources pointed out that the Enforcement Directorate registered the case of money laundering on the basis of the chargesheet of the National Investigation Agency (NIA), which probed the militant-politician nexus in NC Hills and the diversion of funds to the coffers of the militants for procurement of weapons to wage war against the State. As money laundering, illegal transfer of huge amounts of funds into dollars etc came out during the course of the investigation by the NIA, the Enforcement Directorate also registered a case. During the course of the investigation, the NIA also found that substantial portion of development funds of the NC Hills Autonomous Council went to the coffers of the DHD (J) and the money was converted into dollars in Kolkata and then sent to the leaders of the militant group, who were camping in Nepal for procurement of weapons.

After registering the case, the Enforcement Directorate approached the Court of the Special Judge, Assam seeking permission to interrogate the accused. The process of grilling the accused started after the court granted permission to do so in the Central Jail, Guwahati, where most of the accused were kept.

However, the process of investigation hit a roadblock as the chairman of the DHD(J), Jewel Garlosa, whose questioning was vital for the investigation, is kept in a special jail in the headquarters of the Special Branch of Assam Police and the Enforcement Directorate has the court�s permission only to grill the accused in the Central Jail. The Directorate wrote a letter to the Assam Police with the request to inform the investigating agency as to when Garlosa would be sent to the Central jail so that the investigation can progress. But the Assam Police wrote back saying that the jail authorities would inform the investigating agency whenever Garlosa is shifted. Interestingly, the Assam Police did not give a categorical reply as to when the militant leader is likely to be shifted to the Central Jail.

Under the circumstances, the Enforcement Directorate is planning to approach the court again seeking permission to question Garlosa in the Special Jail as without his questioning it would not be possible to come to any conclusion in the money laundering case.

Sources said that the questioning of the commander in chief of the DHD(J), Niranjan Hojai was also vital as he used to stay in Nepal to run the operations of the militant group with the money sent to him through hawala racket. But Hojai started a hunger strike in the jail immediately after the Enforcement Directorate started the probe and he was shifted to the Gauhati Medical College Hospital. Now the officials of the investigating agency can hope to question Hojai only after he is declared fit by doctors and he is sent back to the jail.

Meanwhile, the questioning of the other accused revealed some interesting facts. Sources revealed that during the course of the questioning, RH Khan, the prime accused in the NC Hills financial scam, admitted that he had kept Rs 13.50 crore in the residence of his brother-in-law, which was later recovered by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). He admitted that the money was kept in four gunny bags in his residence when it was raided by Assam Police immediately after his arrest last year. But the police could not find that amount and recovered only Rs 4 lakh from his residence. Khan shifted the money to the residence of his brother-in-law when he was out on bail for a brief period. This proved that the police did not search the residence of Khan properly immediately after his arrest.

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NC Hills scam probe hits roadblock

GUWAHATI, Oct 4 � The probe into money laundering in North Cachar Hills by the Directorate of Enforcement virtually hit a roadblock as the officials of the investigating agency have not yet been able to question the two top leaders of militant outfit DHD(J), commonly known as the Black Widow group.

Highly placed official sources told The Assam Tribune that questioning of the top leaders of the DHD(J) is vital for progress of the investigation but so far the officials of the Enforcement Directorate have not been able to do so. However, the officials of the investigating agency completed the first round of questioning of the other accused of the case including Social Welfare Department officer RH Khan.

Sources pointed out that the Enforcement Directorate registered the case of money laundering on the basis of the chargesheet of the National Investigation Agency (NIA), which probed the militant-politician nexus in NC Hills and the diversion of funds to the coffers of the militants for procurement of weapons to wage war against the State. As money laundering, illegal transfer of huge amounts of funds into dollars etc came out during the course of the investigation by the NIA, the Enforcement Directorate also registered a case. During the course of the investigation, the NIA also found that substantial portion of development funds of the NC Hills Autonomous Council went to the coffers of the DHD (J) and the money was converted into dollars in Kolkata and then sent to the leaders of the militant group, who were camping in Nepal for procurement of weapons.

After registering the case, the Enforcement Directorate approached the Court of the Special Judge, Assam seeking permission to interrogate the accused. The process of grilling the accused started after the court granted permission to do so in the Central Jail, Guwahati, where most of the accused were kept.

However, the process of investigation hit a roadblock as the chairman of the DHD(J), Jewel Garlosa, whose questioning was vital for the investigation, is kept in a special jail in the headquarters of the Special Branch of Assam Police and the Enforcement Directorate has the court�s permission only to grill the accused in the Central Jail. The Directorate wrote a letter to the Assam Police with the request to inform the investigating agency as to when Garlosa would be sent to the Central jail so that the investigation can progress. But the Assam Police wrote back saying that the jail authorities would inform the investigating agency whenever Garlosa is shifted. Interestingly, the Assam Police did not give a categorical reply as to when the militant leader is likely to be shifted to the Central Jail.

Under the circumstances, the Enforcement Directorate is planning to approach the court again seeking permission to question Garlosa in the Special Jail as without his questioning it would not be possible to come to any conclusion in the money laundering case.

Sources said that the questioning of the commander in chief of the DHD(J), Niranjan Hojai was also vital as he used to stay in Nepal to run the operations of the militant group with the money sent to him through hawala racket. But Hojai started a hunger strike in the jail immediately after the Enforcement Directorate started the probe and he was shifted to the Gauhati Medical College Hospital. Now the officials of the investigating agency can hope to question Hojai only after he is declared fit by doctors and he is sent back to the jail.

Meanwhile, the questioning of the other accused revealed some interesting facts. Sources revealed that during the course of the questioning, RH Khan, the prime accused in the NC Hills financial scam, admitted that he had kept Rs 13.50 crore in the residence of his brother-in-law, which was later recovered by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). He admitted that the money was kept in four gunny bags in his residence when it was raided by Assam Police immediately after his arrest last year. But the police could not find that amount and recovered only Rs 4 lakh from his residence. Khan shifted the money to the residence of his brother-in-law when he was out on bail for a brief period. This proved that the police did not search the residence of Khan properly immediately after his arrest.