Continuing the tussle between the Centre and Chhattisgarh government, the ruling Congress on Saturday (February 29) staged a protest against the Income Tax department’s ongoing raids on properties linked to some state government officials.
The BJP-led Centre was trying to destabilise the state government with these “politically motivated” raids, it alleged.
Congress workers led by state unit chief Mohan Markam also tried to gherao the IT departments office in Civil Lines area but were stopped by the police.
“Our party fought against the misrule of BJP government in Chhattisgarh for 15 years and now we are ready to fight against (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi’s government at the Centre,” Markam said.
“The Centre is misusing central agencies and hatching a conspiracy to defame and destabilise a strong Congress government in the state,” he alleged.
“The state government has exposed the misdeeds during the BJP rule. Therefore, in frustration, they conducted raids with a malafide intention to create an atmosphere of fear,”
After a protest at Gandhi Maidan, Congress leaders headed for the IT departments office but the police barricaded the road near the Akashvani Chowk and stopped them.
Some protesters managed to reach the IT departments office and shouted slogans against the Union government.
Around 200 police personnel had been deployed to avert any untoward incident during the agitation, said a police official.
Markam handed over a memorandum addressed to President Ram Nath Kovind to the district administration.
The memorandum demanded that the President ask the Union government to stop misuse of central agencies against the Congress government in Chhattisgarh.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel suddenly left for Delhi by a regular flight on Saturday morning and returned late in the evening.
Talking to media at the Raipur airport before departure, Baghel said the raids were underway for the last three days, but no information was given to his government.
“We do not have any problem with the raids. We are also fighting corruption. But at least intimation should have been given to the state government,” he said.
“Central forces are frequently moving from Jagdalpur to Raipur. If anything happens, who will be responsible? It is the responsibility of the state government to take care of
law and order. This is a Naxal-affected state and they should understand the sensitivity of the matter,” Baghel added.
According to sources, IT officials on Thursday launched raids at about 25 properties linked to Chhattisgarh government officials and others in Raipur.
Some of these properties allegedly had links to A K Tuteja, joint secretary in the state commerce and industry department, retired IAS officer and former chief secretary Vivek Dhand and Raipur Mayor Ezaj Dhebar and his brother Anwar Dhebar.
On Friday, raids were conducted at the house of Saumya Chourasiya, deputy secretary to the chief minister, at Bhilai.
Chourasiya is said to be the chief ministers trusted officer.
The house was locked so IT officials camped outside the whole night on Thursday and sealed it on Friday, sources said.
Raids continued at a few locations on Saturday, sources added.
(With inputs from agencies.)