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I-T raids trigger fresh political storm in Rajasthan

As the political drama in Rajasthan performed out on Monday, following deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot’s revolt towards chief minister Ashok Gehlot, the Union authorities appeared to deal itself a hand in the sport with the Income Tax (IT) division and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) conducting raids on a number of firms and people linked to Gehlot and his associates or the Congress itself.

While the finance ministry denied that the raids had been politically motivated, individuals conversant in the matter stated everybody raided has hyperlinks with the CM. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has stated it isn’t concerned in the drama enjoying out in Rajasthan.

The I-T division carried out “search and survey operations on three teams” at 20 premises in Jaipur, six in Kota, eight in Delhi and 9 in Mumbai, in accordance with the federal government.

One of the teams is concerned in enterprise actions similar to lodge, hydro energy initiatives, steel and auto sectors. “It is suspected to have invested unaccounted income generated from these activities into real estate,” a authorities assertion stated.

It added that the second group is engaged in the enterprise of buying and selling of silver/gold jewelry and vintage silver articles, and has affiliate enterprises in different international locations. The third group is concerned in lodge enterprise, it stated.

Among these raided had been Rajiv Arora of Amrapali Jewels, who can also be the vp of the Congress in the state; the Om Kothari Group, which has pursuits in engineering, development, actual property, automotive dealerships, and manufacturing; and Mayank Sharma Enterprises.

A tax official stated on situation of anonymity that the “department received information of tax evasion worth crores of rupees. At present, a team of 100 officials are carrying out searches at more than 22 locations linked to Dharmendera Singh Rathore and Rajiv Arora.”

“Rathore is All India Congress Committee Member and former chairman of Rajasthan Seeds Corporation,” stated a Congress functionary who spoke on situation of anonymity.

Meanwhile, ED raided Jaipur’s Fairmont Hotel in the afternoon; Gehlot has housed round 100 MLAs loyal to him on the lodge. “The raids were initiated after it received information about violations of Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999, rules. It is alleged that Ravikant Sharma received foreign funding worth Rs 96.7 crores from Mauritius,” stated an ED official who requested to not be named.

People conversant in the matter stated the Mumbai-based Mayank Sharma Enterprises owns the lodge and alleged that one in every of its predominant buyers, Sharma, is related to Vaibhav Gehlot, son of Ashok Gehlot. BJP chief Kirit Somaiya claimed in 2013 {that a} Mauritius-based firm bought the shares, having a worth of Rs 100, of Trion Hotels and Resorts of Sharma, at an absurd quantity of Rs 40,000 every whereas in search of a probe into the involvement of Vaibhav Gehlot in the affair.

The probe, IT officers stated, pertains to tax evasion and a few benami (proxy) transactions; raids had been performed after inspecting a number of paperwork over a time frame, they added.

A finance ministry official stated: “Raids are being conducted by the income-tax department’s field formations based on inputs related to tax evasion. Such raids take place only after prolonged investigations and after finding discrepancies in the company or individuals tax returns. So, allegations of politically motivated raids hold no ground. In fact, those indulging in tax evasion often term such raids as motivated to cover up their illegal activities.”

The Congress questioned the timing of the raids. “The frontal departments of the BJP – IT and ED — have come out in the field. When will CBI come?” Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala tweeted.

Om Kothari group’s flagship, Om Metals Infraprojects Ltd, the IT officers added, was raided in reference to transactions associated to a contract given to it to construct a dam in Rajasthan.

Interestingly, Om Metals’ joint managing director Sunil Kothari was raided by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in November 2017 in reference to the AgustaWestland case.

When contacted, a consultant at Om Metals’ predominant workplace in Pushp Vihar, Saket, stated: “IT officials are still here” and added that he isn’t authorised to speak to the media.

State BJP president Satish Poonia stated it was “mere coincidence that the IT raids took place today. These agencies are independent and an extensive exercise is done before. These things (raids) don’t happen on a whim.”

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