THE INCOME tax department on Monday conducted a series of raids and surveys on at least 22 properties allegedly linked to RJD chief Lalu Prasad in Delhi and Haryana as part of its investigation into alleged illegal deals worth Rs 1,000 crore, officials said. Lalu, however, slammed the action in a series of posts on his official Twitter account, claiming that he was being targetted by the Centre because he was “out to target the BJP’s lies and tall promises”.
Union law minister Ravishankar Prasad alleged that the real estate transactions under the I-T scanner were a case of “quid pro quo” and pertained to the time when Lalu was the railway minister at the Centre. Tax officials said the raids and surveys were conducted by around 100 officials assisted by police personnel.
“People and businessmen connected to the land deal involving Lalu Prasad and his family are being searched. There are allegations of Benami deals worth about Rs 1,000 crore and subsequent tax evasion,” PTI quoted a senior official as claiming. Officials said that apart from proceedings under the Income Tax Act 1961, provisions of the Benami Transactions Act, which became operational from November 1, 2016, would be invoked in the investigation. The latest amendments to the Act carries a maximum punishment of seven years in jail and a fine.
The raids included the premises of businessmen and real estate agents in Delhi, and Gurgaon and Rewari in Haryana said, officials. Searches were also conducted at the premises of a close family member of an RJD MP over the purchase and sale of real estate, said, officials. Documents and computer hardware were seized in the raids, they said.
Lalu’s reaction to the raids included a tweet in which he wished the BJP all the best for its “new alliance partners”, prompting speculation that he was referring to his party’s ruling alliance partner JD(U). But Lalu later clarified that the RJD-JD (U) alliance was “inseparable” and that the BJP must not “salivate” at the prospect of a break-up.
The JD(U) said Lalu’s tweet referred to “central agencies”. The RJD chief also alleged that the raids were part of a bid to “suppress” his voice and warned that “crores of Lalus would rise across the country”.