The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Monday (February 20) conducted searches at multiple locations in Chhattisgarh, including premises linked to Congress leaders, as part of an ongoing investigation into the coal levy money laundering case, officials said.
The raids come ahead of the three-day plenary session of the Congress from February 24-26 in the state capital Raipur. The state is ruled by the party under Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel.
Also read: ED arrests 4 in Chhattisgarh coal levy scam, money laundering case
Over a dozen locations are being searched, including the premises linked to Congress leaders and some MLAs, official sources said, according to a PTI report.
They said the ED is investigating those who have been the beneficiaries of the proceeds of crime of the alleged coal levy scam perpetrated during the tenure of the current government.
“Today the ED has raided the residence of many of my colleagues, including the treasurer of the Chhattisgarh Pradesh Congress Committee, the party’s former vice-president and an MLA,” Baghel said in a tweet.
“There is a plenary session of the Congress in Raipur after four days. Our spirits cannot be broken by stopping our colleagues engaged in preparations for the session through such acts. The BJP is disappointed with the success of Bharat Jodo Yatra and the truth of Adani being exposed. This raid is an attempt to divert attention. The country knows the truth. We will fight and win,” the CM added.
Hitting out at the BJP over raids, head of state Congress communication wing Sushil Anand Shukla said, “The BJP is afraid of the Congress 85th plenary session scheduled to be held in Raipur and in a bid to disturb it the opposition is misusing the central agency.”
“Whenever the BJP fails to take on its political rivals it misuses central agencies like the ED and CBI,” he claimed.
As a mark of protest, the Congress will stage a gherao at the ED office in Raipur at 11 am.
The ED investigation relates to “a massive scam in which illegal levy of Rs 25 was being extorted for every tonne of coal transported in Chhattisgarh by a cartel involving senior bureaucrats, businessmen, politicians and middlemen”, the agency has alleged.
Nine persons, including state administrative service officer Chaurasia, Suryakant Tiwari, his uncle Laxmikant Tiwari, Chhattisgarh cadre IAS officer Sameer Vishnoi and another coal businessman Sunil Agrawal have been arrested by it till now in the case.
(With agency inputs)