Army officers were paraded before former chief ministers Vilasrao Deshmukh and Sushil Kumar Shinde by Adarsh society‘s promoters to given an impression that it was meant for defence personnel, a senior army officer told the judicial commission on Wednesday.
The revelation by Commodore John Mathew, at present commanding officer of the National Cadet Corps, gives grist to allegations that the emotional issue of housing for defence officers was used to avail of various benefits.
“Persons like me in uniform were paraded before Shinde and Deshmukh by Kanhaiyalal Gidwani, Brigadier M Wanchoo and R C Thakur, and an impression was created that the society was formed for the welfare of defence personnel,” Mathew told the panel.
Mathew was initially promised a 3-BHK flat in Adarsh but was allotted a 2-BHK apartment. To a question by advocate Bharat Zhaveri, counsel for the commission, Mathew admitted that he was unhappy with the allotment and had written to the society secretary, Commodore Rajeev Pilo, in 2006 that denying him a bigger flat “would send wrong signals that there is a systematic effort to sideline and oust bonafide defence members on whose name and sacrifice the project was cleared by the government of Maharashtra”.
Mathew told the commission that he had also objected to an agreement between Gidwani, Thakur and Wanchoo regarding proportion of civilian members and defence service members in the society.
Mathew’s statement before the commission follows statements by witnesses on how the defence forces were used to seek benefits from the government for Adarsh. Whistle-bower Saurav Ray had told the commission that he had called the society “dubious” as Adarsh had “used the name and facade of the welfare of ex-servicemen and Kargil martyrs, while many members were civilians who had no connection with the army or Kargil operations. They were misusing the sentiments of Kargil martyrs to their own benefit.”
Adarsh had written three letters between 1999 and 2000 to then chief ministers, seeking land in Colaba for the “welfare of retired and serving defence personnel”. Post-2000, however, there is no mention that the society was exclusively for defence staff.
Former chief secretary S Sankaran had also told the commission that following a meeting with former CM and then revenue minister Ashok Chavan on June 6, 2000, the society agreed to accommodate civilians. In the FIR filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation, Chavan has been named for suggesting the inclusion of civilians in Adarsh, which benefited his mother-in-law, Bhagwati Sharma, and sister-in-law, Seema Sharma. Chavan, in his affidavit, denied that he had suggested that civilians be included.
-via The Times of India.