Over Rs 220 crore in cash has been recovered by the Income Tax department after it conducted raids linked to an Odisha-based distillery group in the last three days. According to reports, the Odisha-based liquor firm has links with Congress Rajya Sabha MP from Jharkhand, Dhiraj Prasad Sahu. The cash has been recovered from Boudh Distillery Private Limited (BDPL) in Odisha.
Several note-counting machines were used by the IT sleuths to count the total amount of cash recovered in the raids in the past three days. The IT department raided nearly half a dozen premises of Congress MP Dhiraj Prasad Sahu in Ranchi, Lohardaga and Odisha. Raids are also being conducted in West Bengal.
Several companies have been linked to Sahu's relatives which include Baldev Sahu Infra Private Limited (Fly Ash Bricks), Kwality Bottlers Private Limited and Kishore Prasad Bijay Prasad Beverages Private Limited.
The raids were conducted at some houses, offices, and distillery at Sargipali in Sundargarh city on Wednesday.
The IT team also searched the corporate office of Boudh Distillery Pvt Ltd at Palasapalli in Bhubaneswar, the houses of some company officials, the company's factory and office in Boudh and the Ranisati Rice Mill.
Congress MP hails from prominent business family
Dheeraj Sahu hails from a prominent business and political family of Jharkhand. He has been elected to the Rajya Sabha twice from the Congress.
PM Modi takes a dig at Opposition
As over Rs 200 crore have been recovered in raids, Prime Minister Narendra Modi hit out at those involved in corruption saying every penny looted will have to be returned.
Taking to X, formerly Twitter, PM Modi wrote, "The countrymen should look at the pile of these notes and then listen to the honest 'speeches' of their leaders... Whatever has been looted from the public, every penny of it will have to be returned, this is Modi's guarantee."
Congress MP's phone switched off
The mobile phone of Jharkhand MP Dheeraj Sahu, who allegedly has links with the liquor company, was found switched off when contacted, PTI reported. Employees in his Ranchi office said that the MP is not available.
Continuing its raids, the Income Tax department on Friday found 156 bags of cash during search for the third consecutive day in places linked to liquor firm on charges of tax evasion, officials said. From the bags, Rs 20 crore were counted till now, taking the total amount so far recovered to Rs 220 crore.
The department officials recovered as many as 156 bags containing cash during the raid at Sudapada in Bolangir district on Friday.
"Of the 156 bags, only 6/7 were counted and the amount found was Rs 20 crore," an official said. The raids were carried out at Sambalpur, Bolangir, Titilagarh, Boudh, Sundargarh, Rourkela and Bhubaneswar. The company is yet to provide any reaction to the raids.
BJP demands CBI probe
Meanwhile, the Odisha unit of BJP at a press conference demanded a CBI probe into the entire episode and sought clarification from the ruling BJD in Odisha.
BJP spokesperson Manoj Mohapatra also showed photographs of a woman minister from Odisha's western region, in which she was found sharing dais with one of the liquor traders on whose premises the I-T raids are being conducted.
The BJP spokesperson claimed that this veracity of tax evasion could not be possible without active support and patronage of the local leaders and the state government.
He asked, "What were Odisha's excise department, vigilance wing, intelligence wing and economic offence wing doing?" BJD MLA Satyanarayan Pradhan, however, rejected the allegation of the BJP and claimed that Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik hates corruption and believes in transparency.
"The people found guilty will certainly be punished as our CM always says that law will take its own course," Pradhan said.
Around Rs 200 crore in cash was seized on Thursday during raids at the Bolangir office of Baldeo Sahu & Group of Companies, a major country liquor manufacturer in western Odisha.
Former IT commissioner Sarat Chandra Dash said that this could be the largest cash seizure by the income tax department in Odisha so far.
"I have never come across recovery such a huge amount of cash in the state," Dash said.
IT department DG Sanjay Bahadur reached Bhubaneswar on Thursday and monitoring the entire operations. No one was arrested in this connection.
With inputs from PTI, IANS