Mumbai: Assets worth over ₹ 1,000 crore – allegedly linked to Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar and his family members – have been seized by the Income Tax Department.
Five properties, including Nirmal Tower at Mumbai’s iconic Nariman Point, have been seized, sources said. A sugar factory and a resort have also been seized.
Ajit Pawar and (his) family are the “beneficiaries of the above Benami properties,” sources in the Income Tax Department said, adding the Anti-Benami Act has been invoked as they referred to the allegations that the properties were bought illegally.
Last month, tax searches were conducted at the houses and firms owned by Mr Pawar’s sisters. Responding to the searches and raids, Mr Pawar had insisted that “all the entities” linked to him have regularly paid taxes.
“We pay taxes every year. Since I am the Finance Minister, I am aware of the fiscal discipline. All entities linked to me have paid taxes,” the 62-year-old NCP leader had told reporters last month.
Alleging misuse of probe agencies, he had commented: “I am upset because (premises of) my sisters, who got married 35 to 40 years ago, have been raided. If they were raided as Ajit Pawar’s relatives, then people must think about it…the way the agencies are being (mis)used,” he said.
Former Union Minister Sharad Pawar had also hit out at the BJP over the searches linked to his nephew, calling it a “misuse of power”.
Referring to the tax officials, the 80-year-old NCP chief last month said: “We are not afraid of such guests. You can recall how I was sent a notice by the Enforcement Directorate before the state elections (in 2019)… even though I had never taken a loan from the bank and I had nothing to do with it. They gave me a notice and Maharashtra taught them a lesson.”
“The same thing is happening with Ajit Pawar and others now. People are witnessing the misuse of power,” he added.
The veteran politician also claimed that the raids were in response to his comments against the BJP on the violence in Uttar Pradesh’s Lakhimpur where eight people, including four farmers had died.
Union Minister Ajay Mishra’s son, Ashish, was arrested in the case.