Rampur, Uttar Pradesh:
The Income Tax department suspected a tax evasion of more than Rs 800 crore by senior Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan after it conducted raids on him and people associated with him for three days, official sources said on Friday.
Income tax sleuths who reached Khan’s residence on Jail Road in Rampur in Uttar Pradesh at 7 am on Wednesday completed their search Friday evening.
After the officials left his residence around 7 pm on Friday, Mr Khan came out and said, “It was a raid of I-T department. They stayed here for three days. They conducted searches and asked questions.” Mr Khan refused to answer further questions.
On September 13, the Income Tax department conducted raids at more than 30 premises in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh as part of a tax evasion probe against Mr Khan.
Official sources said the department has conducted raids in Rampur, Saharanpur, Lucknow, Ghaziabad and Meerut in Uttar Pradesh apart from some premises in neighbouring Madhya Pradesh.
In Ghaziabad, the Income Tax department raided a residence in Rajnagar Colony on Wednesday. The house belongs to Ekta Kaushik, said to be close to Azam Khan’s family.
The I-T probe is related to some trusts run by Khan and his family members, the sources said.
The scope of investigation by the I-T department intensified with sleuths reaching the Public Works Department and district panchayat office besides Muhammad Ali Jauhar University headed by Mr Khan, the officials said.
They said the government expenditure files are being scrutinized as over Rs 800 crore tax evasion was suspected by the politician.
The raids drew sharp reaction from the Samajwadi Party which vowed support to Khan and accused the BJP government of “dictatorship” and “misusing central agencies”.
“Azam Khan saheb is the voice of truth. He laid the foundation for a better future for children and built a university for education,” the party said in a post on X in Hindi following the raids on Wednesday.
“Khan has always fought against communal forces. We all stand united with his voice,” it said.
Countering the allegations about misuse of central agencies, BJP leader and Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya had said the central agencies were well within their rights to take action to make “Bharat corruption-free”.
Last year, a court had convicted Khan in a hate speech case registered over his remark made at a public meeting in Khatanagaria village of the Milak Kotwali area in 2019.
He was sentenced to three years of imprisonment, following which he was disqualified as an MLA from Rampur. Later, he was acquitted by a higher court, but his disqualification was not revoked on account of his conviction in a different case.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)