Graft noose tightens around Kolkata Port Trust chairman
A senior police officer said that on Wednesday Rs 20 lakh was recovered when Kahlon was arrested. On Thursday, Rs 4 lakh was found in his bungalow at Hyde Road and Rs 11 lakh was recovered from the hotel room of DD Jagtap Duttaji, director of Bharat Calcutta Containers Terminal Limited, who was also arrested on charges of giving the bribe.
Police on Thursday produced both Kahlon and Duttaji before the Special Court in Bankshall and both were remanded in police custody till 17 March. Acting on a tip off, a team comprising officers of the city police’s Detective Department and Special Task Force (STF) followed and arrested them for ‘accepting illegal gratification’ from a room in a five star hotel at Esplanade. Police officers claimed that they were arrested after a two hour grilling session.
Separate police teams went to Kahlon’s bungalow and offices, including one on Strand Road and the other on Middleton Street. According to an officer of the Detective Department, Rs 4 lakh was found from his bungalow and investigating officers went through various papers and documents in the offices. They also informed the concerned KoPT officer about his arrest in writing, adding that more officials may be questioned if required.
On being asked why Bharat Calcutta Containers Terminal Limited bribed the chairman when it had already bagged a contract one and a half years ago, the officer said: “We have taken him in remand and we will be questioning him to know the reason.”
Before the hearing began, Kahlon and Duttaji were seated on a bench in the court room, busy whispering among themselves, when Kahlon’s sister walked in. Finding Kahlon interacting with his sister, on-duty policemen took both the port chairman and Duttaji inside the witness box. Kahlon and his sister continued talking to each other and it was audible in the court room. His sister told him that it (the arrest) would not have happened if some high level political boss had intervened. Kahlon replied that it was “related to the P-51 land.”
It may be recalled that there had been a dispute between the KPT and a production house over the possession of a plot on P-51 Hyde Road Extension. The production house was evicted from the plot in September 2015. The sister, who refused to tell her name, later said, “He (Kahlon) had been serving for the past 35 years. He cannot accept bribe. He is being framed.”
Pleading for his bail, Kahlon’s counsel submitted before the court that he was arrested on the basis of source information and assumption. He contended that to arrest someone on charges of gratification, police had to show that money was offered by someone and accepted by the receiver, but nothing was found in this connection. Even the car where the money was found did not belong to Kahlon. Duttaji’s counsel also pleaded for his client’s bail.