The Income Tax Department has seized a staggering Rs 351 crore in cash after a five-day-long search against a distillery company based in Odisha. Union Home Minister Amit Shah raised questions about the apparent 'silence' from leaders within the INDIA bloc.
Owned by a family associated with a Congress Member of Parliament Dhiraj Sahu, this haul is deemed the "highest-ever" in a single action by any investigative agency in the country, according to official sources on Sunday.
The searches extended to the premises of Congress Rajya Sabha MP Dhiraj Prasad Sahu in Ranchi and other locations. Despite inquiries from PTI, both the company, Boudh Distillery Private Limited, and the parliamentarian remained silent about the ongoing actions against them.
The marathon raids, initiated on December 6 by the tax authorities, targeted the distillery company and its promoters, alleging tax evasion and "off-the-book" transactions. The counting process, involving nine teams comprising around 80 individuals from the tax department and various banks working in shifts on a 24x7 cycle, concluded on the fifth day.
An additional team of 200 officials, including security personnel, drivers, and other staff, joined in when the tax authorities discovered 10 almirahs stuffed with cash in addition to other locations. Reportedly, 200 bags and trunks were used to transport the seized cash to various bank branches in Odisha.
Sources indicate that the entire cache of currency, totaling Rs 351 crore, is believed to be "unaccounted" money earned from cash sales of country liquor by the business group, distributors, and others. This marks the highest-ever cash seizure in a single action against a group and its affiliates in the country.
Previous instances of high-value seizures include a 2019 case where the GST Intelligence raided a Kanpur-based businessman, seizing Rs 257 crore, and another incident in July 2018, where the Income Tax Department uncovered Rs 163 crore during searches against a road construction firm in Tamil Nadu.
The department is currently recording statements from executives and staff present at the searched locations and will soon issue summonses to the main promoters of the company for their statements. It remains unclear what amount of cash and documents were seized from MP Dhiraj Prasad Sahu's residence. The majority of the recovered currency, largely in Rs 500 denomination, was reportedly found at the company's premises in Bolangir district.
What did the BJP say?
The BJP on Sunday stepped up its attack on the Congress and other opposition parties, with Union Home Minister Amit Shah saying it is now clear that their "propaganda" about probe agencies being misused was driven by the fear that their corruption will be exposed.
In a statement, the senior BJP leader questioned the "silence" of INDIA bloc leaders, saying he can understand why the Congress is keeping mum but wondered why parties like the TMC, DMK, JD(U) and the RJD were doing the same.
Union Tourism Minister and BJP leader G Kishan Reddy asked why Congress leader Rahul Gandhi was "silent" on the issue.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on Friday assured the people that the money looted from the public will be returned and had posted a Hindi newspaper report where the cash recovered by the IT department was shown stacked.
Taking to X, he had said, "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 will have to be returned, this is Modi's guarantee."
While the Congress has distanced itself from the MP, claiming that the party has nothing to do with his business, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah accused the Centre of targeting only the Congress and asked why no searches were carried out against BJP leaders.
Jharkhand Congress in-charge Avinash Pandey said, "Since he is Congress MP, he should make an official statement about how such a big amount of money came to him."