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Wednesday, April 17 2024
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Chhattisgarh

Ex-Chhattisgarh CM Baghel Accused in Mahadev Bets Scam FIR

Bhupesh Baghel
Photo Credit : Google

Chhattisgarh Police have initiated legal action, naming former chief minister Bhupesh Baghel as a suspect in the Mahadev Online Book app scandal, which is estimated to involve around ₹6,000 crore. This development poses potential legal challenges for the Congress leader as the Lok Sabha elections approach.

Baghel faces charges related to cheating, criminal conspiracy, breach of trust, and forgery under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), as well as sections 7 and 11 of the Prevention of Corruption Act. The charges were detailed in a first information report (FIR) filed by the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) in Raipur on March 4.

In addition to Baghel, the FIR includes Mahadev promoters Sourabh Chandrakar and Ravi Uppal, along with 16 other named individuals, and unnamed bureaucrats, police officers, and officers on special duty (OSDs) during Baghel’s tenure as chief minister.

Sources familiar with the matter stated that Baghel’s inclusion in the case follows references from the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to the state police on January 8 and 30. The ED’s findings allegedly implicate top-level state government officials in facilitating illegal activities by Mahadev in exchange for purported “protection money”.

According to the FIR, the financial crimes probe agency accused Chandrakar and Uppal of paying bribes totaling ₹508 crore to Baghel in November 2023. Chandrakar and Uppal are currently detained in a facility in the UAE, and extradition requests have been initiated through the ministry of external affairs (MEA).

The FIR alleges that Mahadev Book App promoters paid substantial sums as protection money to police officers, administrative officials, and influential politicians to avoid legal action against their illicit operations. This money was purportedly transferred through hawala operators to senior police officers and politicians. Notably, the FIR does not specify any senior police or administrative officers.

An individual familiar with the situation indicated that the ED may pursue a fresh money laundering case against Baghel based on the FIR.

Following his defeat in the assembly elections in December, Baghel is preparing to contest the Lok Sabha election from the Rajnandgaon constituency. Baghel’s political advisor for comment, but no response was received.

Citing the ED’s findings, the FIR alleges that Mahadev Book App and its affiliated companies illicitly amassed proceeds of crime amounting to ₹450 crore monthly.

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