The Income Tax Department on Thursday raided the homes of Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar’s sisters in Pune and Kohlapur, India Today reported.
Officials also searched businesses linked to them and other relatives of Pawar based on accusations of tax evasion, PTI reported, quoting unidentified officials.
An establishment named Jarandeshwar Sahkari Sugar Karkhana was among the businesses that tax officials raided. It is reportedly run by a relative of Pawar, according to The Hindu.
In July, the Enforcement Directorate had attached the assets of a sugar mill belonging to the business in Satara district under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, PTI reported.
Pawar, who is a member of the Nationalist Congress Party, alleged that the raids were politically motivated, India Today reported.
He added: “Just because they are related to me, they are being harassed. Sharad Pawar [Nationalist Congress Party chief] was also troubled in a similar manner. I don’t know why these raids are being conducted.”
Pawar said he would understand if the raids were carried out on premises linked to him. “But why my sisters?” he asked. “Two of my sisters are in Pune and one in Kolhapur. This is very low-grade politics.”
The Maharashtra deputy chief minister, who also holds the finance portfolio, said he was quite familiar with income tax rules, The Hindu reported. “Hence, my companies have never defaulted on paying taxes,” he added.
Pawar’s colleague Jayant Patil blamed the Bharatiya Janata Party for the raids. “I have been saying for a long time that BJP leaders take the names of our leaders and actions by ED, Income Tax, CBI [Central Bureau of Investigation] follow,” he claimed.
He added: “There is no doubt left that it has been the BJP’s conspiracy to defame our leaders.”
Patil, Maharashtra’s water resources minister, alleged the Centre was attempting to divert attention from the violence in Lakhimpur Kheri in Uttar Pradesh with the raids, India Today reported.
Eight people, including four farmers, were killed as violence erupted in the district on October 3 during a protest against the farm laws. Farmer bodies have alleged that a vehicle that was part of Union minister Ajay Mishra’s convoy ran over the protestors. They have claimed that the vehicle belonged to the minister’s son Ashish Mishra.
The police have booked Ashish Mishra on multiple charges, including murder and criminal conspiracy. However, he has not been arrested yet.