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Odisha Crime Branch raids OOA office

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Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Cuttack, Dec 6:

A 20-member team of the Crime Branch police today raided the office premises of the Odisha Olympic Association (OOA) here in connection with the alleged irregularities in the Association.

Revenue officials measuring the land on which Barabati Palace stands
Revenue officials measuring the land on which Barabati Palace stands

The Crime Branch team, led by Crime Branch SP Rajendra Patnaik, is examining documents of the Football Association of Odisha (FAO), Barabati Palace and OOA.

Sources said the raids and scrutiny of documents will continue till 4 PM.

OOA general secretary Asirbad Behera and other officials of the OOA and FAO were present at the OOA office at the time of the raid.

A team of Crime Branch sleuths, under the supervision of a DSP, had yesterday examined the papers seized from the OOA by the Cuttack Sadar tehsildar last Sunday. The tehsildar had taken possession of land and properties on it adjacent to Barabati Stadium encoroached by the OOA and being used for commercial purposes under the orders of the Odisha High Court.

The OOA was allegedly illegally occupying this land for last 30 years and running business establishments, including a sprawling marriage mandap called ‘Barabati Palace’, on it.

The OOA, which had got 20 acres of government land on lease for construction of Barabati Stadium way back in 1949, subsequently encroached upon two acres of adjacent vacant government land in mid-70s.

However, in 1986 the OOA sub-leased the encroached land and developed various business establishments on it and earned revenue.

The state government had in 2000 filed an eviction case and had challenged the encroachment. But OOA contested it in a civil court and in 2002 and had obtained a favourable decree. The state government then moved the High Court against the judgment of the lower court.

It may be mentioned that the Odisha High Court, expressing displeasure over the alleged irregularities in the OOA, had last week directed the Crime Branch to probe the alleged illegal activities of the OOA and submit a report within three months.

A single-judge bench of Justice BP Ray, in an order issued on November 29 directed the Collector Cuttack to take over the property of the association, including Barabati Palace and shops running in it.

The HC also directed to scrutinize the association’s accounts.

Acting on an appeal filed by the state government on encroachment of its land by OOA near Barabati Stadium, the HC, in its order, said if anyone is found during the inquiry to have made money, appropriate legal proceeding should be started against them.