Does recovering Rs 1.5 crores make Hardeep Singh Bedi a criminal?
In an incident that has raised many eyebrows in Guwahati, the crime investigation department (CID) raided a house of businessman Hardeep Singh Bedi in the Bhetapara area and recovered around Rs 1.54 crores in new currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 2000. Meanwhile, according to media reports, union finance minister Arun Jaitley recently called a meeting of the inter-ministerial group and blamed the states for not doing enough to crack down on hoarders and black marketers. The new currency notes seizure in Guwahati has raised many questions on how a businessman could get such a huge amount of money in new notes under the prevailing scrutiny on money withdrawal. What is his business or profession that he was capable of earning such huge money? Is he involved in some criminal activity? And now that the money has been recovered why haven’t the police filed any case and no one has been arrested? G Plus looks into the depth of the matter.
CID, Assam Police, on Monday last, recovered Rs 1,54,81,000 comprising currency notes of Rs 2000 and the new Rs 500 denominations from the residence of a city-based businessman Hardeep Singh Bedi, who is the owner of a restaurant, bar (Mezbaan) and a market complex located in the Ganeshguri area. The sources in CID, talking to G Plus, said that they had received some special inputs about hoarded old currency notes being hidden in Bedi’s residence located on Bishnu Rabha Path, Beltola/Bhetapara, opposite an apartment complex called Ridhi Sidhi Heights. CID raided the residence on 12th December and recovered the new notes; no old notes were there. The doubt cropped about the volume of recovery especially when the current withdrawal limit is just Rs 24,000 per week. The CID then informed the Income Tax (IT) department even as Bedi tried giving various explanations regarding the stash. The house was raided in the evening and early the next morning the income tax department officials counted the recovered money, noted the series numbers and took the cash along with them successfully evading the media and keeping mum on the issue. But does the incident prove that Bedi is a criminal and will there be any charges registered against him?
Criminal or not?
The police sources said that no criminal case has been registered against Bedi and his family so far as they have various explanations regarding the source of the money. The source said that the IT department will further investigate the matter and if there are any anomalies regarding the source of the money the police will be informed and subsequent action will be taken accordingly. The source said that while the Bedis had many explanations for the money that fateful evening, they also kept changing their versions. Various explanations included some portion of the money coming from winning the Meghalaya Teer (archery) games. Other versions offered that it is from the rentals of their properties, sale at their restaurant, etc. The police said that as the matter fell under the IT Act which is the sole authority that can enquire about disclosed and undisclosed assets, the police had to hand over the case to the IT department. The sources in the IT department said that the Bedis have declared to having all the documents regarding the source of the money and they can furnish the same if required. While during the raid they were not able to declare the source they have now sought some time. The IT officials have noted down the serial numbers of all the notes and their investigation will follow accordingly. The IT source said that the investigation will be conducted under the IT Act; all the documents regarding the recovered money will be sought and the source of the same investigated accordingly. If any anomalies like money laundering or other criminal source is found the police will be asked to step in and further investigate under the IPC Act. The source also said that after the investigation is over it will come to light if any bank employee has been in collusion in the matter but that it will take some time to find out all the facts. So basically, Hardeep Singh Bedi, for the time being, is not a criminal but what exactly is his profession that allows him such fabulous earnings?
The money source
A highly placed source who is related to Hardeep Singh Bedi, talking to G Plus in anonymity, said that Hardeep has a number of businesses. He has three sons and two daughters some of whom live on Hardeep’s earnings and lead a lavish lifestyle. Hardeep has reportedly bought cars and properties for them to divest the money. Hardeep has a market in Ganeshguri (Bedi Market) and the Mezbaan bar is located there. There are many shops in the market and he gets rental earnings accordingly. Hardeep Singh Bedi had two other brothers, one of whom is dead. The source also said that one of Hardeep Singh Bedi’s sons-in-law (Ramesh Sabbarwal) is based in Delhi and was on the board of directors in Central Bank of India several years ago. The source said that this factor might have been a help for the Bedis to convert old currency notes into new ones. However, the source is not certain about this factor, but conveyed that Sabbarwal in Delhi is a very influential person who also was associated with the Congress party for many years. The source added that Hardeep Singh Bedi has huge landed properties in and outside Guwahati. According to IT sources, the Bedis said that they will furnish the documents regarding the source of the recovered money but the family source remains sceptical about the manipulations that might be done in obtaining such documents. The people of the Bedi Market said that Mezbaan bar is notorious for anti-social activities and many a time the area has witnessed ugly squabbles and fisticuffs. A source near the Bedi Market, talking to G Plus in anonymity, said that the bar is a flesh trade point where customers make deals with sex workers. These sex workers are present every evening soliciting customers. All said and done, the police maintained that they cannot register any criminal case unless they receive complaints. The fact remains that the police had information about hoarded money and the new notes were recovered. It is up to the IT department to investigate any possible anomalies.
Meanwhile, according to media reports, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) recently said that Rs 12.44 lakh crores of demonetised 500 and 1,000 rupees notes have been deposited by the public since the demonetisation was announced on 8th November last. Notes worth Rs 12.44 lakh crores have been deposited till 10th December; RBI has been issuing more and more new notes on a daily basis, the media reported. The RBI also said that it has instructed the banks to undertake central data checking and take action against officials found involved in unlawful activities. This incident has raised suspicions on banks and bank officials. People are cynical now that the demonetisation drama has only harassed the general populace while the black money hoarders remain unperturbed and virtually capable of getting away with blue murder.
• Acting on a tip-off CID raids Mezbaan bar owner’s residence in Beltola
• CID recovers Rs 1,54,81,000 from the residence of Hardeep Singh Bedi
• CID informs the Income Tax department
• IT officials search the residence and seize the recovered money
• IT has noted the serial numbers of all the notes recovered in the new Rs 500 and Rs 2000 denominations
• Police sources said that no criminal case has been registered so far; IT is the concerned investigating department
• Police sources also said that the Bedis are giving different versions about the source of the money
• IT source said that the Bedis have claimed the money is from their earnings and they will furnish documents to prove the same
• Family insider said that Bedi’s son-in-law is on the board of Central Bank of India and is an influential former Congressman
• IT officials to check if any bank employee helped the Bedis
• People irked and feel demonetisation is just a drama while people continue turning huge amounts of black money into white
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