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I-T Dept Says It Seized Cash Worth Rs 12 Crore in Raids from People Close to Rajasthan CM Gehlot

File photo of Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot.

File photo of Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot.

The department is reportedly checking to see if this amount, recovered from raids conducted a few days back, was kept aside for political purposes.

The Income Tax Department has seized about Rs 12 crore cash and unaccounted jewellery worth Rs 1.7 crore after it conducted searches at the premises of three Rajasthan-based groups early this week on charges of tax evasion, officials said on Friday.

The department is reportedly checking to see if this amount was kept aside for political purposes.

Rs 5 crore has been seized from the locker of Ratan Kant Sharma, a partner of Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot's son.

The raids were conducted earlier this week even as Gehlot’s Congress-led government is embroiled in a deepening political crisis in the state where his deputy Sachin Pilot has revolted. Over 200 I-T sleuths had raided the residences and properties of two of Gehlot’s close confidants.

About Rs 12 crore cash has been seized from various premises apart from the recovery of jewellery worth Rs 1.5 crore, official sources said.

The searches were launched on July 13 amid a brewing political crisis in the ruling Congress party in the desert state.

The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), the policy-making body for the tax department, had said on Monday that "search and survey operations were conducted on three groups at 20 premises in Jaipur, six in Kota, eight in Delhi and nine in Mumbai".

The searches came amidst an intense power tussle between Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and his deputy Sachin Pilot and the action was criticised by the Congress party even as the department said the raids were carried out after it obtained "reliable inputs" of tax evasion by the groups under the scanner.

"One of the groups covered is involved in several business activities like hotel, hydro power projects, metal and auto sectors. It is suspected to have invested unaccounted income generated from these activities into real estate," the CBDT had said.

The second group, it said, is engaged in the business of trading of silver and gold jewellery and antique silver articles and has associate enterprises in various countries like the UK and the USA, and also has properties and bank accounts in these countries.

"The main allegation against the group is that a substantial part of its silver jewellery business is carried out outside the regular books of accounts," the CBDT had said.

The third group, it added, is involved in hotel business.

"The source of investment in the same remains to be verified," it said.

The CBDT said several incriminating evidences in the form of loose papers, diaries, digital data were found that indicate bullion trading in cash, investment of cash in properties among others.

(With inputs from PTI)