Odisha’s vigilance department personnel raided several petrol pumps and gas agencies, including one owned by Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan’s brother Soumendra on Saturday, PTI reported. Though the minister (pictured above) was unavailable for comment, his Bharatiya Janata Party colleague and the party’s state general secretary Prithviraj Harichandan alleged the Biju Janata Dal-led government was targeting Pradhan.
Director General (Vigilance) Rajendra Prasad Sharma denied the BJP’s allegations, The Times of India reported. The raids follow the Central Bureau of Investigation’s searches on properties owned by BJD members and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s aide in connection with the Seashore Group chit fun scam.
Soumendra Pradhan’s premises in Talcher was among the locations raided by vigilance authorities in Koraput, Nawarangpur, Puri, Bhubaneswar, Berhampur, Balsore, Sambalpur, Bargarh, Angul and Cuttack, a statement said. The statement said certain irregularities were identified in some locations and that collectors and district magistrates have been asked to initiate appropriate action against the violators, PTI reported.
Harichandan said, “The BJD government had earlier misused the state vigilance by slapping a false case against former Director General of Police Prakash Mishra in September 2014 after unceremoniously removing him from the post of top cop in July that year. The case was later quashed by the Orissa high court in June 2015.”