IT Department (Representative image: Shutterstock)
The Income Tax Department has begun raids at sugar factories associated with Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, and properties of his sisters, media reports suggest.
The searches are being conducted in Mumbai, Pune, Satara and a few other cities of in Maharashtra and Goa, news agency PTI has reported.
Pawar said the raids were politically motivated, The New Indian Express has reported.
"This is low grade politics. The BJP should not drag family members and relatives in their politics. My sisters got married 30 to 35 years ago. They have been living peacefully. Now central agencies are targeting them because they are my sisters," Pawar was quoted as saying by the publication.
The premises linked to business groups such as DB Realty, Shivalik, Jarandeshwar Sahkari Sugar Karkhana (Jarandeshwar SSK) and businesses linked to Pawar's sisters are being covered under the ongoing operation, PTI reported.
Jarandeshwar SSK was in the news recently after the Enforcement Directorate (ED), in July, attached over Rs 65 crore worth of land, building, plant and machinery of its sugar mill at Chimangaon-Koregaon in Satara under the anti-money laundering law.
The ED had claimed that the cooperative-run sugar mill was linked to Pawar and his family.
"The assets (of Jarandeshwar SSK) are currently held in the name of Guru Commodity Services Pvt Ltd (an alleged dummy company) and leased to Jarandeshwar Sugar Mills Pvt Ltd," the ED had alleged in a statement.
"Sparkling Soil Pvt Ltd is holding majority shares of Jarandeshwar Sugar Mills and investigations revealed that the former firm is related company to Ajit Pawar, deputy chief minister of Maharashtra, and Sunetra Ajit Pawar (his wife)," it had alleged.
Pawar had then denied any wrongdoing.
The ED action was part of its probe into the Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank (MSCB) scam case where it is alleged that SSKs were fraudulently sold by the then officials and directors of MSCB at throwaway prices to their own relatives and private people "without following" due procedure prescribed under the SARFAESI Act.(With inputs from PTI)