bhupesh baghel

Chhattisgarh searches: I-T says tax evasion worth crores; CM Baghel says misuse of agencies

India News

The Income Tax Department has seized Rs 14 crore worth of undisclosed cash and jewellery from searches conducted last week covering more than 30 residential and business premises of a business group and a government official in Chhattisgarh, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) said in a statement Monday.

In Koriya, Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel said Monday, “After the change of guard in Maharashtra, the central agencies like ED, I-T and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) will now turn towards Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, West Bengal and southern states.”

The Chief Minister said the Central government was “misusing central agencies like the ED, CBI and I-T department”. “Has there been any such activity in BJP-ruled states in the past eight years? By unleashing ED, I-T, Centre is trying to control the opposition parties, and states being ruled by opposition leaders. Controlling the media and politicians is not going to benefit them,” he said.

The CBDT did not mention any name of the company or the official in its statement.

The Indian Express had on June 30 reported about the I-T searches at premises across Chhattisgarh, including premises related to Saumya Chaurasia, who is Deputy Secretary to Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel and those of Suryakant Tiwari, a prominent businessman and his business partners.

Tiwari is involved in transport, coal and real estate businesses in Chhattisgarh and other places. Chaurasia’s house was raided by the Income Tax Department earlier in February 2020 too in a Rs 150-crore embezzlement case. Back then, CM Baghel wrote a letter to Prime Minister Modi, accusing him of politically motivated raids in a Congress-ruled state.

The searches last week were spread over Raipur, Bhilai, Raigarh, Korba, Bilaspur, Surajpur in Chhattisgarh. “The Income Tax Department carried out search and seizure operations on 30.06.2022 on a group engaged in the business of coal transportation and other allied activities. The premises of a senior government officer was also covered in the search action,” the CBDT statement said.

A large number of property agreements are alleged to have been found, which reveal “huge undisclosed investments” have been made in acquisition of immovable properties, which appear to be benami in nature, it said.

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