India’s state-controlled investigating agency Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Wednesday raided the premises of corporate lobbyist Nira Radia, former Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) chairman Pradeep Baijal and former telecom minister A Raja’s relatives in connection with the $39 billion 2G spectrum scam.
The agency swooped down at 27 locations in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu and seven in New Delhi which also included auditors and accountants of former minister Raja.
Vaishnavi Corporate Communications, which is Radia’s office and her farm house in South Delhi were searched by the CBI along with persons closely associated with the handling of accounts and funds of Raja.
Pradeep Baijal’s residence was also searched. Baijal, who retired as TRAI chairman in 2006 is now working with Radia. As chairman of the telecom regulatory body, he had allegedly helped some telecom companies.
Homes and offices of Raja’s business relatives were also raided by the agency.
The sleuths raided a non-government organization in Tamil Nadu, which has member of parliament Kanimozhi of DMK, a key ally in Manmohan Singh’s government, as one of the directors.
The CBI raided the residences of Raja’s brother and sister in the south Indian temple town of Srirangam after their residences were raided last week too.
The investigating agency also raided the residence of a senior journalist and picked up real estate promoter Sadiq Basha, a key aide of Raja, for interrogation.
Raids were also conducted at the residences of former telecom secretary Siddarth Behura, Chandolia, member telecom commission K Sridhar and deputy director general in the Department of Telecom A K Srivastava.
These raids come days after Indian winter parliament session ended abruptly in the wake of protests from opposition parties demanding a joint parliamentary probe into the 2G spectrum scam, which was rejected by the government.
Radia had telephonic conversations that showed she had lobbied for Raja when a new government came in last year.
Last month, Raja was forced to exit from prime minister Manmohan Singh's government over allegations that he sold second generation spectrum at below market rates, causing huge losses to the exchequer.
The controversy hit the roof following the leak of a large number of Radia's telephonic intercepts that showed her lobbying for Raja while talking to leading industrialists and journalists when Manmohan Singh was preparing to form a Congress-led coalition government in May 2009.
Earlier, the CBI had searched offices of Wireless Planning Cell (WPC), the department responsible for allocating spectrum, and the office of deputy director general (access services) of the telecom ministry to probe the allegations of connivance of officials with private companies in allocation of spectrum.
It had also conducted searches in eight cities housing headquarters of various telecom firms in connection with its probe into the scam.