The Income Tax department has attached a second land property worth about Rs 10 crore in Lucknow as part of its ongoing alleged benami assets possession probe against gangster-politician Mukhtar Ansari and his family.
The department's Benami Assets Investigation wing, headquartered here, has codenamed the comprehensive probe Operation Panther.
It has found that the 'benamidar (in whose name a benami property is standing)' of the 3,234-square feet plot at 13-C/3 in Lucknow's Dalibagh area is a Ghazipur-based woman named Tanveer Sahar.
Official records accessed by PTI show that the department attached the plot under Section 24(3) read with Rule-5 of the Prohibition of Benami Properties Transaction Act on September 29 as it found that the linked people are "very influential" and that the property is located in a prime location and can be disposed of clandestinely.
While the plot's stamp valuation is just over Rs 76 lakh, official sources pegged its market value at about Rs 10 crore.
In April, the department attached the first property in the case against Ansari, located at Mauja Kapurpur NZA under Sadar tehsil in Uttar Pradesh's Ghazipur district, and identified his alleged associate -- Ganesh Dutt Mishra -- as the benamidar of this about Rs 12 crore-worth land.
The taxman unearthed the latest asset (in Lucknow's Dalibagh) after prolonged questioning of Mishra and records obtained from the Uttar Pradesh Police and the revenue department and financial documents from various agencies, including banks.
It found Mishra mortgaged the Dalibagh property as collateral for a Rs 1.60 crore loan taken from the Union Bank of India in 2014 by a company named Aaghaaz Project and Engineering Private Limited, whose shareholders were Ansari's wife Afsan Ansari, son Abbas Ansari and father-in-law Jamshed Raza.
The property was released by the bank after the loan was paid back and it was transferred to the alleged benamidar Sahar in November 2020.
The tax department suspects that Sahar -- the wife of Niyaz Ahmad and a resident of Mahanagar in Lucknow -- is an associate/aide of the Ansari family.
The Income Tax department found that Sahar has never filed an Income Tax Return and did not have a sufficient source of income to purchase the Dalibagh plot that has been attached under the anti-benami law, apart from a few others.
The department concluded that Sahar was a "dummy owner or benamidar" of the property. The tax officials also summoned her for questioning but she is yet to depose before them.
Income Tax department sources had earlier said that they were working to attach about 20-21 more alleged benami properties of Ansari's family, estimated to have a market value of over Rs 100 crore, as part of Operation Panther.
Ansari, lodged in the Banda jail, faces 61 criminal cases in different states. He has so far been convicted in six.
A Varanasi court in June sentenced him to life in prison for the murder of Awadhesh Rai, Congress leader Ajay Rai's brother, more than 30 years ago.
In April, he was sentenced to 10 years in jail by a court in Ghazipur under the Gangsters Act.