In a significant development, the Income Tax department has seized over Rs 200 crore during simultaneous raids at approximately 25 premises in Odisha and Jharkhand. The raids are connected to Baldeo Sahu and Group of Companies Ltd, a country-liquor manufacturing and selling firm operating across Odisha’s western districts. The total amount seized is expected to rise as the counting process is ongoing, according to sources within the Income Tax department.
The group, allegedly linked to Congress Rajya Sabha MP from Jharkhand, Dhiraj Sahu, has family members actively involved in the business. The partnership firm, Boudh Distilleries Private Limited (BDPL), and a leading country-liquor manufacturing firm are under scrutiny for alleged tax evasion.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to social media to highlight the raids, posting a newspaper clipping featuring images of a substantial amount of currency notes recovered during the operation. Modi commented, “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.”
The Income Tax personnel initiated the raids on BDPL on December 6, investigating allegations of tax evasion. Subsequently, searches were conducted at the premises of Baldeo Sahu and Group of Companies, leading to the recovery of 156 bags of cash. Simultaneous raids were carried out in various locations in Odisha and Jharkhand, including Titlagarh, Sambalpur, Sundargarh, Bhubaneswar, Rourkela, and places in Jharkhand. Properties associated with liquor traders in Rourkela and Rayagada were also searched.
The counting of the recovered notes, up to Rs 50 crore, was completed by Wednesday evening. However, the process was temporarily halted due to counting machine malfunctions. The seized cash was transported to the SBI branch in Balangir, where counting resumed amid tight security.
Manmohan Swain, Deputy General Manager at SBI Sambalpur, stated, “On the request of the IT department, counting of seized cash is going on at our Balangir and Sambalpur branches. The counting that started yesterday is still going on. It may also continue till Saturday despite being a holiday.”
Congress MP Dhiraj Sahu and Jharkhand state Congress president Rajesh Thakur have not responded to calls and messages for comment. Jharkhand Congress spokesperson Rakesh Sinha defended Sahu, stating that his business is longstanding, and his wealth did not accumulate overnight. Sinha added that the I-T department had not communicated anything to Sahu.
The significant cash seizure, possibly the largest in Odisha’s history, raises questions about financial dealings and transactions in sensitive zones, including Naxal territories. As the investigation unfolds, the political implications and public response remain to be seen.
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