The Income Tax(I-T) Department Wednesday conducted searches on multiple premises linked to AAP leader and Delhi Transport minister Kailash Gahlot in connection with a tax evasion case and seized about Rs 35 lakh in cash, officials said.
The raids sparked condemnation from Delhi's ruling Aam Aadmi Party(AAP) with Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal seeking an apology from Prime Minister Narendra Modi to people for what he called "constantly troubling" his government. The AAP also dubbed the raids as "political vendetta".
Another AAP leader Atishi accused the Modi government of trying to "intimidate" Gahlot for successfully leading the party's legal battle against disqualification of its 20 MLAs in the Delhi High Court and for implementing a scheme for doorstep delivery of essential public services.
The Najafgarh MLA, who is an advocate by profession, holds charge of several departments in the Kejriwal government.
They include Law and Administrative Reforms department that are handling the matter of disqualification of 20 AAP legislators for holding posts of parliamentary secretary, and the doorstep delivery of services scheme, respectively.
The BJP's Delhi unit chief Manoj Tiwari demanded the removal of Gahlot from his post
The official said an amount of about Rs 35 lakh in cash was seized from various premises and also claimed to have recovered "incriminating documents" of multiple accommodation entries and benami assets.
An accommodation entry refers to documents that reflect fake loans transacted by bogus or shell firms in order to evade taxes.
A benami asset denotes properties which are purchased by people from their ill-gotten wealth through a dummy or in the name of a different person.
The search teams, the official said, raided locations in Delhi's upscale residential areas like Vasant Kunj and Defence Colony, offices and residences in Paschim Vihar, Najafgarh, Laxmi Nagar and Palam Vihar area in Gurgaon.
The searches, that were on till late evening, are being conducted as part of a tax evasion probe against two firms -- Brisk Infrastructure and Developers Pvt Ltd and Corporate International Financial Services Limited -- that are operated and owned by the family members of Gahlot, the official said.
The official said multiple undisclosed transactions and alleged under-reporting of profits has led the department to launch a tax evasion probe against the promoters of the two firms and their operations, the official said.
While the former company is engaged in the real estate sector, the latter is said to be a Non-Banking Financial Company (NBFC).
"Friendship with Nirav Modi and Mallya and raid on us? Modiji you conducted raids on me, Satyendar and Manish what happened to those (raids). Nothing was found.
"So before you go with another raid at least apologise to Delhi people for troubling their elected government," Kejriwal tweeted in Hindi.
Another AAP leader Saurabh Bhardwaj said the central agencies including the CBI, the ED and the IT Department should disclose if it found anything related to "corruption" during their raids on AAP leaders and ministers.
"Many such raids happened in the past but nothing substantial came out and nor any charge sheet was filed," he said.
Atishi said the AAP supports investigation of allegations, but asked why to single out only the party's leaders and ministers
"No matter which agency Modi and (Amit)Shah send after us, we will not be intimidated and continue to serve people in Delhi," she told a news conference.
(With inputs from agencies.)