ED Raids Premises of Former Minister & Congress Leaders in Uttarakhand

Dehradun: Officials of the Enforcement Directorate raided several premises of Congress leader and former forest minister Harak Singh Rawat and three Indian Forest Services (IFS) officers on Wednesday in connection to money laundering linked to illegal tree felling scam in CorbetteTiger Reserve. The IFS officers under the ED scanner include a retired DFO languishing in the jail.

Before joining the Congress ahead of the 2022 assembly elections, Rawat was BJP’s forest minister in Uttarakhand. ED officials searched Harak Singh Rawat’s house at the Defence colony in Dehradun and several other premises in Delhi, Chandigarh, Pauri and Srinagar (Uttarakhand) on Wednesday. His family members were also interrogated.

This case pertains to the Pakhro Range scam that resulted into massive tree felling inside the protected forest cover of Corbette Tiger Reserve.

In 2016 Rawat was a cabinet minister in Harish Rawat led Congress government, but he defected to the BJP along with other party MLAs including former CM Vijay Bahuguna.

The ED investigation is also linked to the allegations against Rawat and his associates for fraudulently acquiring land in Dehradun district for Ayurvedic college. The land was acquired “fraudulently” in the name of his wife Deepti Rawat and some others while the building was constructed by Shrimati Poorna Devi Memorial Trust.

The Uttarakhand government’s vigilance department had also raided Rawat last year in connection with the alleged tiger reserve “irregularities” prior to the matter was given to CBI by Uttarakhand High Court.

ED officials also raided the premises of senior IFS officer and Chief conservator of forest Sushant Patnaik, former Corbett director Rahul and retired DFO of Kalagarh Tiger Reserve, part of the Corbett Tiger Reserve, Kishan Chand in Haridwar.

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