Mamata Drama Unfolds in MP, Says ex-CM as Cops Clash With CRPF Jawans at Kamal Nath Aide's Home
When local police reached the spot, the I-T team closed the door from inside with help of CRPF officials.
New Delhi: After West Bengal and Karnataka, the 'Centre versus state' tussle reached Madhya Pradesh on Sunday with Income Tax sleuths launching pre-dawn searches on at least 50 locations in Delhi, Indore and Bhopal against people linked to Chief Minister Kamal Nath on charges of alleged tax evasion.
The drama escalated in the evening with state police arriving at the residence of Ashwin Sharma, associate of Nath's aide Praveen Kakkar. The police officers wanted entry into the restricted area claiming the they have been receiving complaints from the residents of the complex that their movement was being restricted by the CRPF personnel.
As soon as the I-T officials saw the police officers, they shut the doors with the help of CRPF officers, who were already present at the spot.
Pradeep Kumar, a CRPF official, alleged that the Madhya Pradesh Police wasn't letting them work. "The local police is hurling abuses at us. We're only following orders of our seniors. Seniors have asked us to not let anybody in. Proceedings are on, that’s why we're not letting anybody in; only performing our duty," said the official.
Defending their move, Bhupinder Singh, City SP, said, "We've nothing to do with Income Tax & the ongoing raid. It's a residential complex, there are people inside who need medical assistance, they are calling the local SHO for help. They have closed the entire complex because of raid."
The SP claimed that the CRPF closed down the entire complex though the officers of central paramilitary force rejected the allegation and asserted that everything was absolutely normal. Later, a bus carrying additional CRPF jawans from Bangrasia base in Bhopal reached the spot.
Reacting to the development, former CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan said, "Cash is being recovered, documents are found, properties are unearthed. I'm surprised that the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh instead of cooperating, he is trying to stop the Income Tax department's proceedings."
"I-T dept is doing its work, it's their constitutional right. CRPF soldiers were on duty, they were being stopped; MP Police clashed with CRPF. What Mamata ji did in Bengal, the same game is being played in MP. It's an attempt to save corrupts," he added.
Meanwhile, chief minister Kamal Nath claimed that the details of the IT raids were not clear. “As the BJP saw an imminent defeat in LS polls, it has resorted to such acts to intimidate others which they have been doing in last five years. They had used these gimmicks in last assembly polls as well," Nath claimed.
Besides Sharma's residence, properties of Kakkar, former adviser Rajendra Miglani and executives linked to his brother-in-law's firm Moser Baer and his nephew Ratul Puri's company were also searched.
Kakkar, a former Madhya Pradesh police officer, was appointed OSD to Nath after the Congress-led government came to power in the state last year. He earlier served as OSD to former Union minister Kantilal Bhuria during the UPA regime.
The former OSD's family is associated with a number of businesses, including hospitality. Reacting to the raids, a Congress leader here accused the BJP-led central government of targeting opposition leaders for "political vendetta".
Leader of opposition in MP assembly Gopal Bhargav slammed the MP government over police intervention and alleged it was only an attempt to distract attention from raids by the Congress government by fuelling clashes between state and central police.
Senior Congress leader Anand Sharma alleged that investigative agencies were being misused. "All this is happening during election time. Has any agency gone to BJP to investigate how crores of money are being spent? There's no CBI, Income Tax and ED for them," Sharma said.
MP Congress' media cell vice president Bhupendra Gupta, also a former OSD to Nath, charged, "The BJP government has been targeting opposition leaders across the country due to political enmity. Due to such an act of political vendetta, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister (N Chandrababu Naidu) and DMK leader M K Stalin had to stage a protest against the Centre." However, the BJP hit back, saying "thieves" were now having a complaint against the "watchman".
"Black money worth crores was recovered during the Income Tax Department's raid at the house of private secretary of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath. This has made one thing clear that those who are thieves have a complaint against the watchman," BJP's national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya said.
Interestingly, a Bhopal-based businessman, Ashwin Sharma, whose residence was searched as part of the I-T raids, on being asked about his connection to Nath and Kakkad, told reporters, "I am a BJP man". He also said the money found by the officials from his house, in Platinum Plaza Apartments in the New Market area of Bhopal, belonged to him.
According to some sources, Rs 20 crore was delivered allegedly to one of Congress officials on Saturday at 4pm. Based on this information, a person named Muin is currently being searched by IT department in Geeta Colony.
IT sources have also claimed that Hawala channels were being used for delivery of the cash.
“We have evidence that huge amount of money was collected from Madhya Pradesh based business houses for elections,” I-T sources said.
DG of IT Harish Kumar, while speaking to CNN-News18, alleged police interference and added that he will raise the issue of ‘police interference’ with the Election Commission and pursue the case legally.
The raids are likely to trigger another political slugfest ahead of the elections as Kakkar is a very close aide of Kamal Nath. The Congress and other opposition parties have repeatedly accused the ruling BJP at the Centre of misusing government agencies to target its rivals.
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