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I-T Searches Premises of Jewelers in Varanasi, Jaunpur Dists

The Income Tax Department on Monday conducted searches on gold merchants and local business associates allegedly linked to the Samajwadi Party in Varanasi and Jaunpur districts of poll-bound Uttar Pradesh.

“Fifty officials have been deployed. The raids are based on workable intelligence inputs of suspected hawala transactions and continued till evening,” a senior official privy to the developments told ET.

“A complaint was received on the toll-free number shared by the department to report any illegal activity during the elections. It was further worked upon and searches were carried out on Monday. There is a case of suspected tax evasion of over Rs30 crore and the money may be used for polls. The same is being ascertained. Certain WhatsApp chats have been found that reveal hawala transactions and the same were being studied, the official claimed.

An agency report said that the I-T teams were recording statements of employees of the jewelers and shop owners whose premises were searched and the team was scanning ledger accounts of the jewelers.

In December, the department had conducted similar searches on businessmen and associates close to SP leader Akhilesh Yadav. The department in a statement in December, without naming people targeted in the searches had claimed that it had found bogus expenditure claims and hawala transactions. Business entities engaged in civil construction and real estate, and those running educational institutes in UP and Karnataka, were targeted. SP had termed the raids as politically motivated. S-ET

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