It could have passed off as another rags to riches story of a tea and bhajiya seller from Gujarat making it big had it not been for demonetisation that stepped up Income Tax surveillance and a crackdown on ill-gotten money.
Kishore Bhaijyawala’s story, nonetheless, is inspirational except for how it ends. But first, here is how it all began.
Bhajiyawala came to Surat about 31 years ago with his family and ran a tea and bhajiya stall for many years in Udhna. His business soon picked pace and he later started lending money to people on interest before moving on to the gold business in 2007.
Bhajiyawala was clearly on a roll and the success and his wealth soon got to his head. He turned what many would term as a ruthless lender.
It is believed that with time, Bhajiyawala who wielded a lot of power thanks to his alleged political connections, usurped the properties of borrowers who failed to pay the interest on time.
According to a Times of India report, Bhajiyawala was charging 15 per cent for exchanging the scrapped notes with the new notes for his clients.
However, things took a turn for the worse when Bhaijiyawala made a deposit of Rs 1.5 crore in one of his bank accounts after the decision to demonetise high-denomination currency was announced. The transaction clearly caught the eye of tax authorities who then swooped on the financier.
What emerged could shock you.
Over the course of the past three days, Income Tax department officials carried out search operations at a financier’s firm in Surat and seized Rs 1.08 crore in Rs 2000 notes, Rs 23 lakh in old 500 and 1000-rupee notes, Rs 5 lakh in 5, 10 and 20-rupee notes, besides gold and diamond jewellery worth Rs 2.5 crore and silver worth Rs 75 lakh from his eight bank lockers.
On Thursday, the I-T officials searched Kishor Bhaijyawala’s bank locker in People’s Co-Operative Bank and recovered Rs 1.08 crore in Rs 2,000 notes. They also recovered Kisan Vikas Patra worth Rs 4.50 lakh, along with documents related to 200 properties in and around Surat.
The officials probed as many as 27 bank accounts owned by the suspect and his family and seized them and claimed that the financier owns unaccounted wealth amounting to about Rs 250 crore.
Bhajiyawala has been under the I-T department’s sanner ever since he deposited Rs 1.5 crore in his bank account. Few days back, Rs 23 lakh was recovered by the tax department from his residence.
The I-T departments has claimed that Bhajiyawala and his family have over 27 accounts in different banks, including HDFC, Bank of Baroda and Surat People’s Co-Operative Bank. Moreover, he allegedly owns 16 bank lockers, of which eight have been searched so far.
I-T department sleuths have also seized various documents from his residence and firm related to ‘benami’ investments in around 70 properties in and around Surat.
Ever since the announcement of demonetisation, Income Tax department, in association with the CBI, ED and police, have been conducting raids on a massive scale across the country.
Few days back, I-T sleuths recovered about Rs 14 crore in cash from a lawyer’s premises in Delhi, who had earlier declared unaccounted income of Rs 125 crore in October. Another Rs 19 crore was recovered from his bank accounts.