Key Raja aide found dead, 2G chargesheet on March 31 (Intro Roundup)

March 16th, 2011 - 10:14 pm ICT by IANS  

Chennai, March 16 (IANS) Sadiq Batcha, a businessman close to disgraced former communications minister A. Raja, was found hanging at his Chennai home Wednesday afternoon. The police said the exact cause of death would be known only after autopsy.

The 47-year-old Batcha’s body was discovered by his family. His distraught wife and another man rushed him to the Apollo Hospital where he was declared dead.

Batcha’s wife S. Reha Banu has told the police that her husband was under tremendous pressure on the 2G spectrum scam issue which might have driven him to suicide.

Batcha’s body was sent to Government Royapettah Hospital for postmortem.

The death of Batcha, who was not directly linked to the spectrum allocation but was being probed for the money trail in the multi-billion rupee scandal, could be a setback to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

“The CBI will face problems with (Batcha’s) recorded evidences,” an official familiar with the probe process told IANS, requesting anonymity.

But CBI spokesperson Dharani Mishra said Batcha’s death was “not a major setback”. She said Batcha had been “cooperating” with the CBI, and “there was no pressure” on him from the investigators.

Considering his closeness to Raja, who is in jail for allegedly giving away second generation spectrum at below the market prices, Batcha’s death spread like wildfire in election-bound Tamil Nadu.

Batcha also hailed from Raja’s home town Perambalur in Tamil Nadu.

For someone who once went door to door selling saris, Batcha had a meteoric rise in business apparently after he moved close to Raja. He was the founder of Green Home Promoters, a real estate company.

The Green House Promoters, started with an equity base of Rs.1 lakh in 2004, grew to over a Rs.600 crore revenue company within a short time - an aspect under the CBI scanner.

The CBI had raided the company and his house in December. The CBI questioned him four times between Jan 29 and Feb 24 to know where the huge amounts of money generated in the spectrum saga went.

Raja’s wife Parameswari was on the company’s board for some time before quitting in 2008 — the year the spectrum was allocated.

Raja’s brother A. Kaliyaperumal and a relative, R.P. Prameshkumar, are still on the company board.

Police immediately questioned Batcha’s family members and a First Information Report (FIR) has been registered.

It is learnt that Batcha had booked a ticket to go to New Delhi Wednesday to appear before the CBI Thursday. A CBI official denied Batcha had been called for questioning.

“He was a suspect for his indirect involvement (in the spectrum scam),” CBI’s Mishra said.

One of the petitioners in the spectrum case, Janata Party chief Subramanian Swamy asked the CBI to probe Batcha’s death. “After all he was under their scanner,” Swamy said in New Delhi.

According to Swamy, Batcha was not a “weak hearted” person but a “hard-boiled businessman who used to deal with hawala agents and other clients”.

Tamil Nadu’s main opposition AIADMK general secretary J. Jayalalithaa in a statement said: “A similar fate could await other key witnesses in the 2G scam investigations…. if the CBI and the Supreme Court of India are really keen on unearthing the whole truth, it would be better to keep all such witnesses under CBI or judicial custody till the investigations are over.”

The dramatic development in Chennai came hours after the CBI told the Supreme Court that the main chargesheet in the spectrum scam will be filed March 31.

The court has asked the government to issue a notification for setting up a special court to exclusively try 2G scam cases.

The court said any attempt by anyone to influence the CBI, the Directorate of Enforcement and the Income Tax department would be viewed seriously.

Batcha is survived by his wife and two children.

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