Six years later, two land complaints against Scindia spring back to life

Milind Ghatwai
Jyotiraditya Scindia, Jyotiraditya Scindia joins BJP, Jyotiraditya Scindia BJP, Jyotiraditya Scindia land cases, Madhya Pradesh congress, Madhya Pradesh crisis, kamal nath, Madhya pradesh government

Jyotiraditya Scindia at Bhopal airport on Thursday. Scindia, who has joined the BJP, filed his nomination papers for the Rajya Sabha on Friday. (Source: PTI/File)

Former minister Jyotiraditya Scindia’s defection to the BJP has pushed the Kamal Nath government in Madhya Pradesh to the brink. But just a day after he joined the saffron party in Delhi and arrived in Bhopal to an enthusiastic welcome on March 12, two complaints of land grabbing filed against him nearly six years ago saw a fresh turn. Scindia camp said it was an obvious case of vendetta politics.

The complaints

In 2014, Gwalior-based Surendra Shrivastava filed two complaints with the economic offences wing (EOW) accusing the then Congress leader and his family members of grabbing prime land in Gwalior, selling government land by claiming ownership and using his clout to hush up the matter. In one complaint (filed on March 26, 2014), Shrivastava alleged that he was short-changed in a deal for a piece of land he purchased from Scindia in 2009. He alleged that he got nearly 6,000 sq land less than the actual size shown in the agreement. He said it turned out (in 2017) that even the land he got was owned by the government, not the Scindias. The second complaint (filed on August 23 2014) alleged that two trusts run by the Scindia family — Scindia Devasthanam Trust and Jyotiraditya Scindia Trust — sold about 1 lakh sq feet to a private person although it was government land. He said the prime land is worth hundreds of crores. When complaints were filed the BJP was in power and Shivraj Singh Chouhan was the CM.

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What happened to the investigation?

The agency began probing the allegations but no FIR had been registered. Shrivastava appeared before the agency and submitted several documents to back his complaint and marked every important point. It is not clear if Scindia was even asked to appear before the agency. “This is precisely what I wanted to know but I learned in 2018 that the files had been closed and I had not been informed. I filed an application under RTI but it was not entertained. Then I filed an appeal and I was told the information can’t be shared because it’s ‘confidential’,” Shrivastava said. He said if the land sold to him was government land, an FIR should have been filed against Jyotiraditya Scindia but nothing was done. The second complaint, he alleged, met the same fate and no FIR had been filed.

Ex-Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia joins BJP in presence of J P Nadda

Jyotiraditya Scindia joins BJP in presence of its party president J P Nadda. (Express Photo by Tashi Tobgyal)

What is the latest turn in the case?

The complainant turned up in Bhopal and met top officials of the EOW with copies of the same complaints, arguing that although he submitted sufficient evidence the agency not only did not probe the matter, but did not inform him why the cases had been closed. A top EOW official said the agency is “verifying the facts mentioned in the complaints”. No FIR has been filed, the official said. The complainant alleges that Scindia had used his clout to scuttle all probes against him.

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Scindia was associated with the Congress for 18 years. (Express Photo by Tashi Tobgyal)

What is Scindia camp’s defence?

It is a case of vendetta and the old case was discussed only to put pressure on Scindia and to warn his supporters that they could face consequences for challenging the government. The old complaints had been closed only because no evidence could be found despite probe, a spokesman for Scindia said.

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What is BJP’s stand on the allegations against Scindia?

Former state BJP chief and Rajya Sabha MP Prabhat Jha had on more than ocassion accused Scindia of being involved in grabbing government land worth hundreds of crores. The party now says there was no evidence against him.