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CBI takes over Barak Valley coal scam case

New Delhi: The CBI has taken over investigation into the Barak Valley coal scam case related to alleged tax evasion in transportation of coal from Meghalaya through the valley by bribing officials, officials said on Wednesday.

The case was recommended for a CBI probe by Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal in 2018 and was referred to the agency by the Centre on February 20 this year, they said.

After receiving the reference, the CBI re-registered the FIR of Karimganj police station against Abdul Ahad Chaudhury who had allegedly cheated a buyer of Rs six lakh on the assurance of giving him coal by providing forged challans, they said.

It is alleged that coal was being transported for many years from Meghalaya through Barak Valley in Assam to Tripura and Mizoram using the national highway-6 evading taxes by bribing government officials, they said.

The Valley is spread across three districts of southern Assam — Cachar, Karimganj, and Hailakandi.

In the FIR, it is alleged that Chaudhary had taken the money from the complainant for arranging seven challans for transporting coal from Meghalaya in as many trucks.

When returning to Meghalaya after transporting coal, the challans were checked at the entry gate where officials declared the documents to be forged, the FIR alleged.

The complainant had alleged that when he went to demand his money, he was physically assaulted by the men of Chaudhury in his office, they said.

In February 2018, the Assam government had announced a CID inquiry into an alleged syndicate of illegal coal trade and smuggling operating in the state.

The opposition Congress had repeatedly demanded a CBI inquiry into the scam, saying the matter allegedly involved Coal India Ltd and it was beyond the CID's mandate.

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