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I-T raids on properties of Madhya Pradesh CM Kamal Nath’s aides

The ostensible reason for the searches was tax evasion, according to the IT officials, who claimed they had information on this.

india Updated: Apr 07, 2019 23:43 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
New Delhi/Bhopal
kamal nath,madhya pradesh,aides
Income Tax officials on Sunday launched nationwide raids on Sunday, targeting at least four dozen locations in Madhya Pradesh and Delhi, all residences and offices of people linked to chief minister Kamal Nath. (Mujeeb Faruqui/ht photo)

Income Tax officials on Sunday launched nationwide raids on Sunday, targeting at least four dozen locations in Madhya Pradesh and Delhi, all residences and offices of people linked to chief minister Kamal Nath. Those raided include Nath’s former Officer on Special Duty Pravin Kakkar, former advisor Rajendra Miglani and executives linked to his brother-in-law’s firm Moser Baer and his nephew Ratul Puri’s company, Hindustan Powerprojects Pvt Ltd, IT, and finance ministry officials said on condition of anonymity.

The ostensible reason for the searches was tax evasion, according to the IT officials, who claimed they had information on this. They added that they suspect movement of money through hawala channels during the ongoing poll season. “Searches on Miglani and Kakkar, as an outcome of credible information of movement of cash, are being conducted. 50 premises have been covered. ~9 crore cash has been recovered till 3 pm (on Sunday). The counting is still on. Several incriminating documents have been found,” a CBDT official with direct knowledge of the matter said requesting anonymity.

In a statement, chief minister Kamal Nath said: “It will be appropriate to comment [on I-T raids] only when the situation regarding the raids becomes clear but entire country knows as to how and against whom they [the BJP] have been using constitutional bodies for the past 5 years. They use these bodies to frighten [others]. When they have nothing to say on development they use such sinister design against opponents.”

“When BJP sees imminent defeat in Lok Sabha polls it has resorted to such actions to draw advantage in the election. In the assembly elections held last year too they had adopted similar tactics,” he added.

Miglani said he was in Chhindwara. “I don’t know about the raids,” he said, while Kakkar couldn’t be reached for a comment.

Madhya Pradesh Congress media in charge Shobha Oza said: “The raids are an outcome of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s frustration caused by BJP’s defeat in three states (Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, and Rajasthan, in late 2018). Raids were carried out to malign the image of Congress party and exert pressure on it during the Lok Sabha elections.”

Interestingly, in a blog released on Sunday, Union minister Arun Jaitley said: “The past few days have witnessed several cases where the Election Commission and the revenue authorities, both separately and acting jointly, trying to curb the use of black money in elections. These actions have been particularly significant in States like Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, North-East and Madhya Pradesh. The Election Commission and the Income-tax authorities work in close tandem during elections.”

The raids in Bhopal and Indore began at about 3 am, and were conducted by IT officers who came from Delhi and were accompanied by CRPF personnel. There was a heated exchange of words on Sunday evening between the Madhya Pradsh police and the CRPF personnel at Platinum Plaza, where the income tax department was conducting raids.

The raids were conducted at Kakkar’s Indore bungalow, his office, a marriage venue owned by him; and another flat. The raids in Bhopal were conducted at Kakkar’s official residence at Nadir Colony at Shayamala Hills,and residence of two of his associates, Ashwini Sharma at Platinum Plaza , and Prateek Joshi at Shyamala Hills. Both Kakkar and Miglani had resigned from their posts just before the Lok Sabha polls were declared.

“Searches on Miglani and Kakkar, as an outcome of credible information of movement of cash, is being conducted. 50 premises has been covered. Rs 9 crore cash has been recovered till 3pm (on Sunday). The counting is still on,” a CBDT official with direct knowledge of the matter said, requesting anonymity.

Though there was no information on cash seized, Bharatiya Janata Party national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya tweeted: “Black money worth crores has been recovered from @officeofKamalNath’s personal secretary.”

Income tax officials in Madhya Pradesh who spoke on condition of anonymity said that apart from cash, soma diaries, with names of officers of the Indian Administrative Service and Indian Police Service have also been seized, and that the teams conducting the raids could also target Kakkar’s bank lockers.

Note counting machines were brought to Sharma’s residence while the raid was going on.

Kakkar, a former Madhya Pradesh police officer, was appointed OSD to Nath after the Congress came to power in the state last year. He had earlier served as OSD to former union minister Kantilal Bhuria during the UPA regime. Miglani, who has been associated with Kamal Nath for many years, was appointed an adviser to the CM Kamal Nath last year in 2018.

Ratul Puri is under scanner of Enforcement Directorate for an alleged money laundering case related to the Augusta Westland VVIP chopper scam.

A statement issued by his company said: “Ratul Puri issues a categorical denial of having any connection or involvement of any kind in defence or the Augusta Westland case. He will be fully cooperating with the ED investigation and provide any clarification or information as may be required.”

It wasn’t immediately clear whether Sunday’s raids have anything to do with this.

According to the Madhya Pradesh IT officials, the raiding teams from Delhi arrived in the state, along with around 150 CRPF personnel two days ago. They arrived as tourists in five traveller buses and three SUVs. The local police was not informed before conducting the raids as, as per official sources, they apprehended a West Bengal like conflict here in Madhya Pradesh too with the local police.

The incident comes over a month after the face-off betweenKolkata Police and officials of the Central Bureau of Investigation in West Bengal in February. Chief minister Mamata Banerjee sat on a dharna after a team of CBI officials reached the residence of then Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar to question him in connection with Saradha chit fund scam.

State BJP spokesperson Rajneesh Agrawal said, “By standing by Kakkar and Miglani Congress has proved that it’s for black money, not for any action against it. Congress’ previous records show it has always been with corruption.”

Chief electoral officer, Madhya Pradesh VL Kantharao said, “If Income Tax department gives any report to me then I will be able to comment on this.”

First Published: Apr 07, 2019 23:43 IST