Minister Raja and Salesman Batcha.
More than a year after CBI filed an FIR into the 2G scam, the CBI on 8-12-2010 carried out raids on several premises, including that of disgraced former minister A Raja and officials who played pivotal roles in the haphazard allocation of spectrum in 2008.
Premises of Sadhick Batcha, a Chennai-based businessman and associate of Raja, also figured among those whose premises were raided and who were questioned by the CBI later. Raja’s wife, Parmeshwari, was among the directors of Green House Promoters, a Batcha-owned firm, from 2007. The Chennai-based businessman is suspected of having handled part of the alleged 2G scam money.
Driven by poverty, AM Sadhick Batcha migrated to Perambalur about 20 years ago from his native Pallapatti village in Salem district. Little would he have imagined then that this would be the beginning of a meteoric rise. In roughly two decades, Batcha has gone from being an itinerant salesman to become the managing director of a real estate firm, thanks in no small measure to his links with the erstwhile telecom minister A Raja.
Batcha’s origins were clearly humble. He started out by selling sarees and dress material on an instalment basis to low-income groups. He would go around on a bicycle, collecting instalments of Rs 10-15 per month from each customer. He later ventured into selling electronic goods like radio and tape recorders, again on instalment.
It took him five more years to graduate into the realty business, though in a modest way. It was an association with former deputy speaker Varahur Arunachalam of AIADMK that changed the course of his life. It began with him doing errands for Arunachalam. Soon, Arunachalam introduced him to Raja, an advocate trying to make his name in the DMK.
Batcha soon expanded his real estate empire to Dindigul and Karur districts. He already had a company – Sadhick Batcha Real Estates —; he subsequently started another named Green House Promoters in 2004 after Raja became Union minister for environment; his mentor’s family too joined him in the business. Batcha reportedly played a major role in organizing several hundred acres of land for a private firm to shift its operations from Chennai to Perambalur.
Batcha had roped in Raja’s wife MA Parameswari on the board of Green House as a director. Others on the board are Raja’s nephew RP Paramesh Kumar, who is also joint MD of the firm, and Raja’s brother A Kaliaperumal. Another realty firm, Equaas Estates Pvt Ltd, was also floated, again involving many of Raja’s relatives. Batcha floated another company in Singapore to facilitate FDI inflow into his company. But the Singapore firm landed in trouble after central agencies noticed violations of the Foreign Exchange Management Act.
In all, 14 locations in Delhi and Chennai were raided, with dozens of CBI officials drafted for the exercise — the first visible step in unearthing the criminal conspiracy behind the spectrum allocation that has resulted in losses in the range of Rs 1.76 lakh crore to the exchequer.
God only knows where the 2G spectrum booty has been hidden?