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HC date forced Govt to act against Harak Singh Rawat

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By Arun Pratap Singh

Dehradun, 31 Aug: While the Vigilance Department’s raids on the properties of former Cabinet Minister and senior Congress leader Harak Singh Rawat have been appreciated as a strict stand against corruption by the ruling BJP, the reality seems to be very different.

It may be recalled that the Uttarakhand High Court had taken cognisance of the case related to illegal felling of over 6,000 trees in the Pakhro Range of Corbett National Park and had raised objections to the lack of action against top IFS officers and Harak Singh Rawat.

Sources claim that behind the Vigilance Department’s raids on the properties yesterday was a letter written by the Chief Standing Counsel of the state government in Uttarakhand High Court to Chief Secretary Dr SS Sandhu, the Head of Forest Force (HoFF) and 10 other top IFS officers. This letter is dated 26 August, 2023. The letter informs the government and the forest administration of the state that the High Court has specifically asked what action has been taken against the then Forest Minister under whose tenure such large scale illegal construction activity had taken place in Corbett National Park.

The letter further states that the High Court has shown its serious displeasure that, till date, no action has been taken by the state government against the then Forest Minister. It further states that the Court has been pleased to ‘observe’ that the next date of hearing in the case is 1 September, 2023.

Hence, the state government has been directed to inform the court of the action taken so far against the then Forest Minister on the next date of hearing that is 1 September.

In the wake of this letter, it now appears that the state government felt pressurised to show some action that had been taken against Harak Singh Rawat. Sources conceded that the two large size power gensets installed at the Ayurvedic Medical College in Shankarpur and at the Amaravati Petrol Pump, respectively, were seized late last evening as they had been actually purchased by the Forest Department, ‘perhaps’ on the orders of the then Forest Minister Harak Singh Rawat.

In an informal interaction with some media persons, then Forest Minister Harak Singh Rawat, claimed today that the then DFO Kishan Chand had been asked to provide the gensets for the Covid Camps that had been organised during the Covid pandemic. They were later asked to take back the gensets after the Covid pandemic was over. Why the Gensets had not been taken back by the Forest Department is best known to the department and he is in no way responsible for this.

It is clear that the government wanted to show some action that had been taken against Harak Singh Rawat before the Court. The next date of hearing is tomorrow and hence the raids. Sources doubt whether the case against Harak Singh Rawat will anytime soon be taken to its logical conclusion unless the High Court persists with its strictness shown so far in the case and forces the government to take serious action. They also claimed that the then Forest Minister had forced top IFS officers to oblige him and they complied with his directions and are now facing trouble for this. A few of them have retired and their pension may be withheld till the case is resolved.

As legal troubles mount for Harak Singh Rawat, who has since returned to Congress, chances of his getting the party ticket to contest the Parliamentary election from Haridwar for which he has been preparing are likely to be affected. The current situation suits his political rival within the party, Harish Rawat, with whom he has never had a cosy relationship even when he was a cabinet minister. Harish Rawat is also preparing to contest the parliamentary election from Haridwar.  In the 2019 elections, too, he wanted to contest from Haridwar. However, he was forced to contest from Nainital-Udham Singh Nagar where he lost to Ajay Bhatt of BJP by a huge margin of around 3 lakh votes. Last time, Congress had fielded Ambrish Kumar from Haridwar, who had lost to the winner, Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, also by a margin of over 2.5 lakh votes. In spite of such a huge loss, Congress still considers Haridwar to be the safest bet for it given the fact that there are a significant number of SC and Muslim voters in the constituency. Most Muslim votes went last time, too, to the Congress given the tactical voting by the community but the Congress failed to garner adequate support from the SC voters.

Harak Singh threatens to expose “everyone”

By Our Staff Reporter

Dehradun, 31 Aug: Senior Congress leader and former Cabinet Minister Harak Singh Rawat, who is facing trouble in several cases including vigilance cases, today interacted with media persons.

During the interaction, he claimed that he wouldn’t be browbeaten or cowed down with such action that is being taken to target him. He also said that there are certain leaders within the Congress who are intent on spoiling his image and targeting him so that he is denied the party ticket for the upcoming Lok Sabha Elections. He warned that he would not allow their dreams to come true.

In response to a question, Rawat said he was not certain if certain Congress leaders were behind the raids conducted on him yesterday but added that dreams of such leaders would not yield any results. He asserted that no leader or government could finish his political career. There are people who aspire for a one time ticket for the assembly polls but he had won the assembly elections six times. He had worked as a minister or on equivalent post nine times in his political career and he does not aspire for more. However, he is a fighter and would not be pressurised by any kind of tactics.

If he chooses, he would expose everyone in the party or in other parties as he knows the inside-out of “everyone”. He warned everyone to not target him.