Varanasi: It was not just the Ghaziabad police who were fooled into providing alleged conman Anoop Chaudhary a gunner for security. The Varanasi police, who also assigned him a gunner and police escort benefits at least seven times this year, have now registered an FIR against the man.
Chaudhary, who served as a member of the Zonal Railway Users Consultative Committee in Delhi and claims to part of the BJP, was arrested by the UP Special Task Force (STF) last month for allegedly availing government benefits on the basis of forged documents and duping people of crores under the pretext of helping them with government-related matters. He is currently lodged in Ayodhya Jail.
His YouTube channel has a collage of his pictures with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh from public events. There are also photos of his purported one-on-one meetings with Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, deputy CM Keshav Maurya, and BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj.
According to the Varanasi police, Chaudhary visited the city seven times on 9 and 19 January, 6 March, 18 April, 15 May, 11 July and 10 October this year. During these visits, he was provided facilities like police escort, a government vehicle, two rooms in the circuit house and a gunner on different occasions.
An FIR was lodged against Chaudhary at Varanasi’s Cantt police station Sunday under IPC sections 419 (cheating by personation), 420 (cheating), 467 (forgery of with a valuable document or authority), 468 (committing forgery, intending that the document or electronic record forged be used for cheating purpose) and 471 (fraudulently or dishonestly using as genuine any document or electronic record). ThePrint has seen the FIR.
The FIR was registered on the basis of a complaint filed by Raghav Prasad, inspector in-charge of the VIP cell of Varanasi police. According to the complaint, Chaudhary was provided with a gunner on different dates on the basis of seven letters written by the authorities to the cell. Two were purportedly written by the Varanasi police commissioner and five of these letters were sent to the VIP cell by the additional district magistrate (protocol/tourism).
“It has come to light that Anoop Chaudhary has availed services of a gunner in an unauthorized manner by forging documents,” the FIR states. “Anoop Chaudhary has availed a gunner by e-mailing letters to district officials signed by his private OSD (officer on special duty) Srinivas Narala on a letter pad of “member, consultative committee, Railway Ministry” and “Food Corporation of India, Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution”, it adds.
Inspector Raghav Prasad, in-charge, Varanasi VIP cell, told ThePrint that Chaudhary would stay in the government circuit house during his visits.
“The letters that his private OSD would email to the authorities would contain details of his programme and schedule including details of his arrival to Varanasi and departure from here, proposed visits to the Kashi Vishwanath temple, railway stations and purported meetings with the public,” he further said.
Prasad added that the itinerary would mention “requirement of two suites in the circuit house during his stay”, and that “he was working to take the PM’s works (schemes) to the public”.
A Varanasi police officer told ThePrint on condition of anonymity that “senior district authorities would be swayed by the credentials mentioned in the letters and end up extending protocol benefits to him without background checks”.
“His links among locals of the city are being probed,” the officer said.
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Similarities with Ghaziabad case
Soon after Chaudhary’s arrest, the UP STF said that it had been getting information “for a long time” about a “gang” that was engaging in organised crime.
The statement further said: “In the name of taking the works of the respected Prime Minister to the public, Chaudhary was resorting to fraud with the public by claiming to be a member of the central railways ministry and has so far, collected crores of rupees by fraud which is leading to the government’s image being spoiled amid general public.”
Chaudhary had been availing benefits of a gunner provided by the Ghaziabad police since 2020.
In an FIR lodged by Ghaziabad police against Chaudhary soon after his arrest by STF last month, Mayank Arora, in-charge of the VIP cell of Ghaziabad police stated that the accused availed a gunner from the district police by sending an email to the then Ghaziabad senior superintendent of police and the district magistrate on 18 October, 2020. In the email, Chaudhary claimed to be “BJP’s in-charge of SC/ST Morcha and state in-charge, Maharashtra, former central consultative member of the censor board, and former member of the Film Development Board, UP government”.
The gunner was suspended by Ghaziabad police because “he left the district without informing senior police officers” soon after Chaudhary’s arrest, Ghaziabad additional SP Nipun Agarwal had said in a statement on 25 October.
Who is Anoop Chaudhary
A native of Ayodhya district’s Raunahi, Chaudhary allegedly duped several people with a ponzi scheme, claiming he would double their income. FIRs have been lodged against him in UP’s Bareilly, Prayagraj, Shamli, Lucknow and Amroha, and Uttarakhand’s Udham Singh Nagar, Khatima and Haldwani.
The website of the Northern Railways shows that Chaudhary was appointed to the Zonal Railway Users Consultative Committee as a member of “special interest”.
According to police records seen by ThePrint, in November 2019, a Jaipur businessman, Rakesh Kumar Khandelwal, had filed a police complaint against Chaudhary for allegedly duping him of Rs 58 lakh.
The case was probed by the Jaipur wing of the CBI, which filed a charge sheet naming him on 22 December, 2020.
(Edited by Gitanjali Das)
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