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Amid Rajasthan crisis, ED, IT raids on people close to Gehlot (3rd Ld)
Jaipur/New Delhi, July 14 - As the political crisis in Rajasthan was playing out in the open for the Congress, the Income Tax and Enforcement Directorate teams on Monday raided multiple premises connected with people from Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot's camp.
According to IT Department officials, the team involving over 300 officials carried out searches at over 43 locations in Delhi, Rajasthan and Mumbai.
Searches were conducted in the offices of veteran state Congress leaders, including Rajeev Arora and Dharmendra Rathod, considered close to the Chief Minister, an IT department official said.
Unaccounted cash, jewellery, property papers, and lockers were seized.
The team also reached Bhilwara and Jhalawad to carry out searches, officials said.
In wake of the income tax officials' searches, the Congress postponed its legislature party meeting by a few hours, while the party's state whip Mahesh Joshi and national media incharge Randeep Singh Surjewala hit out at the BJP for "misusing investigative agencies for its self-fulfilling goals".
According to IT department officials, searches were carried out on three groups at 20 premises in Jaipur, six in Kota, eight in Delhi and nine in Mumbai.
In Delhi, searches were also carried out at four locations in Delhi, including three residential premises located in the Sainik Farm area of one of the Kothari brothers, who once was awarded a mega irrigation project in Rajasthan and faced complaints of irregularities in dam construction, and at the office premises of Om Metals Infra Projects Ltd in Saket area.
The IT department in a statement said, 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 tax department said.
It further said that the second group is engaged in the business of trading of silver/gold jewellery and antique silver articles and has associate enterprises in various other countries like UK, USA etc., as well as 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.
While the third group is involved in hotel business. "The source of investment in the same remains to be verified," it said.
Several incriminating evidences in the form of loose papers or diaries or digital data have been found indicating trading in bullion in cash, investment of cash in properties etc., it added.
Meanwhile, the ED team also carried out searches at Hotel Fairmont in Jaipur. According to ED sources, investor Ratan Kant Sharma, a close aide of Ashok Gehlot's son Vaibhav Gehlot, is under the financial probe agency's scanner.
An ED source claimed that Sharma had received around Rs 96.7 crore from Mauritius and has stakes in Hotel Fairmont.
The ED source claimed that Sharma and Vaibhav Gehlot are business partners.
Sharma was summoned by the ED four days ago. The agency suspects that large-scale overseas transactions have taken place.
A political crisis erupted in Rajasthan after Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot 'revolted' against the leadership of Ashok Gehlot.
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