Richie rich: Punjab’s millionaire woman cop in CBI net

August 3rd, 2011 - 2:39 pm ICT by IANS  

Chandigarh, Aug 3 (IANS) A palatial bungalow, lakhs in cash and jewellery, two luxury cars and a well-stocked bar with the best of international liquor brands — CBI sleuths stumbled upon all this and more during a recent raid on woman Punjab police officer Raka Ghira.

And everyone — from her colleagues to neighbours and even the investigators themselves — were a little more than just curious.

Having laid a trap July 24 while she was allegedly accepting a bribe of Rs.100,000 from controversial builder K.K. Malhotra to “clear” his file, the Central Bureau of Investigation closed in on the riches of the well-heeled deputy superintendent of police (DSP). Malhotra is facing charges of fraud and forgery.

A raid at her bungalow in an upscale locality in Chandigarh’s Sector 15 following the trap led to the recovery of over Rs.87 lakh in cash. CBI officials had to requisition electronic counting machines to count the notes.

“Why did she have so much cash at home? She is not a businesswoman,” a CBI official said.

The agency also recovered documents of fixed deposits of nearly Rs.65 lakh, two imported weapons, nearly 1,200 live cartridges of various weapons, a luxury sedan and an expensive sports utility vehicle (SUV) and a well-stocked bar with over 50 bottles of best international liquor brands.

When her bank lockers were opened, gold jewellery worth nearly Rs.25 lakh was found along with cash and other valuables, official said.

Raka had joined the Punjab police as an inspector in 1999 on compassionate grounds after her husband, Ranbir Singh, a superintendent of police with the state police, died in a road accident.

“Her arrest and assets have left even senior police officers shocked. Women officers openly indulging in corrupt practices is not commonplace,” a senior state police officer told IANS here, requesting anonymity.

In her nearly 11 years of service, Raka was mostly posted in Mohali, adjoining Chandigarh, owing to her connections with political leaders in the state. Even at the time of her arrest, she was holding the coveted post of DSP-city in Mohali.

Mohali district comprises Zirakpur and Mullanpur towns, two big townships emerging in the vicinity of state capital Chandigarh. Land prices in these areas are sky-high and the builder-politician-police nexus is quite open.

Builder Malhotra, who had allegedly agreed to pay her a bribe to get him out of forgery cases, had been involved in controversial land deals in the Mullanpur area.

Raka had earlier served as the station house officer (SHO) of Mullanpur.

“She had a fleet of servants and used to socialise through kitty parties. We were quite surprised when her house was raided. She gave an impression earlier that she was quite powerful,” a neighbour, who did not wish to be named, told IANS.

Raka has not only been booked by the CBI on corruption charges but also faces cases from the Chandigarh police under the Arms Act (for weapons and ammunition recovered) and Excise Act (for illegally storing a large quantity of liquor at home).

After she was sent to judicial custody by a court in the CBI case last week, the Chandigarh police took her into custody following court orders for her questioning.

“We have got her two-day remand. Over 1,000 live cartridges, sophisticated revolvers and over 50 expensive liquor bottles were recovered from her house by the CBI, who informed us,” said Gurmukh Singh, station house officer of Sector 11 police station here.

Her defence lawyers, though, are saying that Raka has been framed.

“The CBI has just done a one-sided probe. She was filing income tax returns on her gold jewellery since year 2000. She even showed the arms licence but the CBI did not accept any of that. We are only seeking a fair probe in this matter,” defence lawyer Malkit Singh Jhandiala said.

(Jaideep Sarin can be contacted at jaideep.s@ians.in)

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