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  Ashirbad Behera arrested by CBI, sent to jail
BHUBANESWAR,19 Sep 2019 (Team Orisports)

Ashirbad Behera, the former secretary of Orissa Cricket Association (OCA), was today sent to jail after being arrested by Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in connection with his alleged involvement in Artha Tatwa Group chit fund scam. Along with Behera, hotelier Kamalakanta Das was also sent to jail after a special CBI court in Bhubaneswar rejected their bail petitions.

The court remanded them to judicial custody till October 1. They were lodged in Jharpada Central Jail in Bhubaneswar. With elections of OCA scheduled to be held on September 27 and Ashirbad Behera’s son Sanjay contesting for the post of secretary, the arrest of the latter at this juncture raised questions about the impartiality of the CBI.

Nine days before Orissa Cricket Association’s (OCA) scheduled elections, the sports body’s controversial former honorary secretary, Ashirbad Behera, was on Thursday arrested by Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in connection with his alleged involvement in the state’s multi-crore-rupees chit fund scam.

“You all know what the motive behind my arrest is,” Behera told reporters after his arrest. Sanjay Behera revealed the motive when he alleged that it was a conspiracy against his father prior to the OCA elections. “Our opponents are trying to put pressure on us ahead of the elections. Our panel will definitely file the nomination tomorrow and win the election. This is a conspiracy against us,” said Sanjay.

However, CBI SP Jaya Narayan Rana said that Ashirbad Behera had been arrested on the basis of a non-bailable warrant issued by court. According to CBI, OCA, through its Secretary and in criminal conspiracy with AT Group, promoted the said Companies so that their rose in the eyes of general public and more people invested in the different schemes floated by said Companies.

In lieu of the same, OCA allegedly received a sum of Rs 1 crore (approx.) from AT Group in the garb of sponsorship of the Odisha Ranji Cricket Team and title sponsorship of Odisha Premier League in 2011.

Kamalakanta Das, who owns Hotel Solan Inn in Bhubaneswar, and businessman Sambit Khuntia were named along with Behera as accused in the case. Khuntia was arrested by CBI in 2014. Behera was interrogated by CBI officials both in 2014 and 2016 in connection with his alleged involvement in the chit fund scam, but was not arrested.

A team of 15-20 CBI officials raided the house of Behera in Cuttack this morning and arrested him. He was brought to the CBI office in Bhubaneswar, where he and Das were grilled by the investigators for about two hours before being presented at a CBI special court.

Kamalakant Das had allegedly entered into dubious land deals with AT Group owner Pradeep Sethy, who had given him power of attorney for 2.5 acres of land in Balasore and 8.5 acres in Bhubaneswar. Das had then sold these two plots for about Rs 1.10 crore.

Behera had earlier claimed that the Rs 1 crore OCA had received from the AT Group was spent in a transparent manner. While Rs 75 lakh was spent in hiring Australian cricketer Michael Bevan as the coach for the Odisha Ranji team, the rest Rs 25 lakh was spent in organizing Odisha Premier League (OPL), he had said in 2016.

After a 16-year-long reign in Odisha cricket as the secretary of Odisha Cricket Association (OCA), Behera had stepped down from the post in 2016 for being above the age of 70. The Supreme Court-appointed Justice Lodha Committee had recommended that the age of office bearers of cricket bodies must be limited to 70.

CBI had first registered a case against Behera in June 2017 after raiding his residence and the OCA office in connection with allegations that he colluded with the AT Group, which had collected nearly Rs 500 crore from small investors through attractive schemes that promised returns as high as 15 to 20 per cent of the deposits.

Behera was also charged under PMLA by Enforcement Directorate (ED) in December 2017 for encroaching a prime plot of government land near Barabati Stadium and using it for his personal business interests. The ED case has Sanjay Behera as an accused as his firm had built a wedding ceremony mandap and ran several business units on the encroached land.

CBI is also probing a case pertaining to OCA allowing 36 junior cricketers whose birth certificates were forged to facilitate their participation in under-19 cricket matches.



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