Cong plays currency exchange video, demands probe

Cong plays currency exchange video, demands probe

Congress leader Kapil Sibal addresses a press conference at AICC headquarters in New delhi, Tuesday, April 9, 2019. Sibal alleged that demonetisation was the biggest scam in India's history. PTI file photo

Congress on Tuesday demanded an investigation into a video that showed an individual reportedly working for the Cabinet Secretariat exchanging a large amount of Rs 2,000 notes in exchange of the currency, outdated by the NDA government's demonetisation drive.

At a briefing at the Congress headquarters, senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal played a compilation of eight videos showing a person named Rahul Shrirang Retharekar, who claims to be a Field Assistant working for the Cabinet Secretariat.

India's external intelligence agency Research and Analytical Wing doesn't exist on paper. Its parent body is Cabinet Secretariat, which found mention in a few government documents.

In the video, Retharekar is in conversation with a journalist whose face was masked. Sibal said the video was available on a website, but he could not authenticate it.

Union Law Minister and senior BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad dismissed Sibal's claims as “false”. “Kapil Sibal has made false allegations on our (party) president (Amit Shah) and we will take legal action,” he told reporters in Patna.

Retharekar is heard telling the journalist that Rs three lakh crore of duplicate currency notes were printed abroad and brought to India in an Indian Air Force plane at the Hindon Air Base.

A defence ministry spokesperson rejected claims made in the video. “It is categorically refuted that any Indian Air Force aircraft was tasked to fly abroad for carrying currency prior to, during or after demonetization as alleged in a video released today,” he said.

The Field Assistant said the money was being used for a currency exchange operation which was being controlled from the “very top” and the entire operation was monitored by a separate department headed by one Nipun Sharan in the Prime Minister's Office.

Sibal who worked as a Cabinet Minister in the UPA government claimed Sharan reported directly to BJP President Amit Shah, but at the same time contended that Nipun Sharan could also be a code name as he had not been able to confirm whether a person with the same name actually worked in the PMO.

“If any banker or a government employee or a treasury employee can exchange such huge amounts of currency...this amounts to treason. Nothing can be more anti-national than this,” the Congress leader said.

The footage showed exchange of boxful of currency notes – purportedly Rs 25 crore -- in demonetised currency for a trunk-full of Rs 2,000 notes – claimed to be Rs 7.5 crore.

Sanjay Channe, purportedly the branch manager of a private bank, also appeared in discussion with an unidentified person and heard dropping names of Amit Shah, Jay Shah and Gujarat Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel.

Sibal demanded an investigation by the Enforcement Directorate in to the contents of the video and come out with the truth.

“The ED conducts searches with such alacrity. Then with equal alacrity they should arrest these people and tell the people of this country what the truth is,” the Congress leader noted.