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By Cornelia Le Roux

Digital Deputy News Editor

Unclear whether Guptas arrested for builder’s suicide are connected to State Capture brothers

In his suicide note, the prominent Dehradun builder alleged that a certain Ajay and Anil Gupta had been threatening him for some time.

Justice Minister Ronald Lamola said it is “unclear” at this stage whether the two Guptas who were arrested on Friday for their alleged involvement in the death of a Dehradun builder in India, are related to the State Capture-accused brothers.

In a report from The New Indian Express, the publication alleges that the incident is connected to Ajay Gupta – one of the controversial Gupta brothers – and his brother-in-law Anil Gupta.

Ajay and Anil were taken into custody by police on Friday at their home in the Dalanwala area of Dehradun for reportedly abetting the suicide of the 52-year-old Satyendra Singh Sahni.

According to police, Sahni stated in his suicide note that the Guptas had been threatening him over financial matters related to a partnership project.

Guptas named in builder’s suicide note

The Times of India reported that the builder named the two in the note before he plunged to his death from the terrace of a seven-storey apartment building on Friday morning.

Sahni addressed the suicide note to Prime Minister Narendra Modiand Uttrakh and Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami, accusing the Guptas of “coercion and interference in his projects”, as per The New Indian Express.

Police sources told Times of India that Sahni had accused Anil and Ajay of “threatening him and his business partner to hand over two major construction projects in the city.

‘Constantly being threatened’

This was reflected both in the suicide note and a complaint laid by the deceased builder’s son, Ranvir Sahni.

“My father was constantly being threatened by Ajay Gupta, son of Shiv Gupta, and Anil Gupta, son of Shyam Lal Gupta, residents of Nehru Colony Dalanwala, over financial matters. A written complaint was submitted to the local police on 19 May 2023, about the Gupta brothers’ threats, harassment, intimidation and blackmail,” Ranvir said.

“Ajay Gupta and Anil Gupta filed a false complaint with the SSP in Saharanpur (Uttar Pradesh) without any basis. As a result, my father was repeatedly summoned by Saharanpur police,” he added.

Guptas allegedly filed false complaint

According to Times of India, Sahni’s suicide note stated that the Guptas had been threatening him for some time, leading him to take his own life.

The builder mentioned that the two businessmen had been pressuring him over financial matters related to a partnership project.

“Ajay Gupta and Anil Gupta filed a false complaint with the SSP in Saharanpur [Uttar Pradesh] without any basis. As a result, my father was repeatedly summoned by Saharanpur police,” he added.

Prima facie evidence

Senior superintendent of police Ajay Singh shared with The New Indian Express that there was prima facie evidence to arrest the two businessmen.

“Prima facie, the Gupta brothers have been detained on the basis of their involvement in the case. Both will be produced in court on Saturday.”

SA’s failure to extradite Gupta brothers 

The three Gupta brothers – Atul, Ajay and Rajesh “Tony” – and their family fled the country in 2018 for the UAE after law enforcement agencies ramped up their investigations into allegations of State Capture.

Interpol then issued Red Notices for the Guptas early last year.

In June 2022, Rajesh and Atul Gupta were arrested in Dubai in connection with the R24.9 million Nulane Investment fraud and money laundering case.

In April 2023, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) however said that it was facing challenges in its bid to extradite the two Gupta back to South Africa from the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

National Director of Public Prosecutions of the NPA, Advocate Shamila Batohi, said that the brothers faced multiple charges relating to fraud and money laundering.

The extradition request to the UAE was eventually rejected and Batohi said follow-ups on finding reasons why have not been responded to by their Middle Eastern counterparts.

“We have been trying very hard to find out some very basic things like what exactly is the problem with our extradition request. We’ve not had satisfactory responses from the UAE,” Batohi said.

The NPA had also taken steps to request political intervention from the Presidency.

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