Bhopal: The Income Tax Department raids, launched pre-dawn on Sunday, at 52 locations of close aides of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath and others on charges of tax evasion and hawala transactions continued till late night. A team of nearly 200 officials have reportedly recovered undisclosed cash amounting to Rs 10-14 crore, which is likely to build up further.

As per sources, quoted by PTI, there is a ‘strong possibility’ of this cash being used as an election inducement to fund political campaigns and bribe voters in the poll-bound state and in Delhi. A preliminary report of the raids has been shared with the Central Board of Direct Taxes, the policy-making body of the I-T department, and the Election Commission in Delhi.

Locations in Indore, Bhopal, Goa and Delhi (Green Park) were raided and included Nath’s former Officer on Special Duty Pravin Kakkad, former adviser Rajendra Miglani and executives linked to his brother-in-law’s firm Moser Bayer and his nephew Ratul Puri’s company.

The properties linked to Ashwin Sharma, allegedly associated to Kakkad, in Bhopal’s Platinum Plaza residency were also covered during the operation

Earlier in the day, an argument broke out between the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel and Madhya Pradesh Police officials outside the residence of Ashwin Sharma. Speaking over the incident, CRPF official Pradeep Kumar said, “Madhya Pradesh Police aren’t letting us work, they’re hurling abuses at us. We’re only following orders of our seniors. Seniors have asked us to not let anybody in. Proceedings are on, that’s why we’re not letting anybody in; only performing our duty.”

Reacting on the development, former chief minister of the state Shivraj Singh Chouhan said, “I-T dept is doing its work, it’s their constitutional right. CRPF soldiers were on duty, they were being stopped; MP Police clashed with CRPF. What Mamata ji did in Bengal, the same game is being played in MP. It’s an attempt to save corrupts.”

Adding, he said, “Cash is being recovered, documents are found, properties are unearthed. I am surprised that the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh instead of cooperating, he is trying to stop the Income Tax department’s proceedings.”

Kakkad, a former Madhya Pradesh police officer, was appointed OSD to Nath after the Congress-led government came to power in the state last year. He served as OSD to former Union minister Kantilal Bhuria during the UPA government.

Reacting to the raids, MP Congress’s media cell vice-president Bhupendra Gupta, also a former OSD to Nath, charged, “The BJP government has been targeting opposition leaders across the country due to political enmity. Due to such act of political vendetta, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister (N Chandrababu Naidu) and DMK leader MK Stalin had to stage protest against the Centre.”

(Inputs from PTI, ANI)