I-T raids embarrass M.P. Government

Staff Correspondent

Health Minister’s brother under I-T scanner

Home Secretary resigns after raid on residence

Director Public Health’s house has also been raided

BHOPAL: The raids conducted by the Income Tax Department on the Madhya Pradesh Home Secretary’s official residence and other premises along with those of many other influential persons, including the brother of the State Health Minister, Ajay Vishnoi, last Friday have become a major cause for embarrassment for the State BJP Government.

According to Income Tax department sources, the raid on the State Home Secretary, Rajesh Rajora’s residence has a direct link with his earlier tenure as Secretary Health. While Mr. Rajora has submitted his resignation, the Bharatiya Janata Party State leaders and those in the State Cabinet are facing embarrassing moments because Mr. Vishnoi’s image has gone in for a nose-dive as top officials of his department as well as his brother, who was posted on deputation with Madhya Pradesh Laghu Udyog Nigam - the lead agency involved in the purchase of medicines - have come under the Income Tax scanner. Attempts to raise this issue in the Cabinet have been suppressed, it is learnt.

Besides the State Home Secretary, the State Director Public Health, Ashok Sharma’s house has also been raided. Income Tax department sources have informed that many of those who have come under the latest “search and seizure operation” that began simultaneously on Friday morning in the State capital and some other cities, including Indore, Jabalpur and Mumbai were linked to the purchase of medicines, equipment and various other procurements by the Health department. It remains to be investigated how much money was being siphoned away by over-pricing, under-supply and through payment of exorbitant commission.

The retired IAS officer U.K. Samal and one of his close associates, Arun Sehlot, who is a builder and owner of a media chain, along with another partner Hridesh Dixit have also been raided by the I-T department. The Income Tax department officers are studying investment related documents recovered from them.

On February 1, 2008, the Leader of Opposition in the State Assembly Jamuna Devi had alleged the State Health Minister’s involvement in a massive medicine purchase scam by pointing to irregularities to the tune of over Rs.1,000 crores in the purchase of medicines through Madhya Pradesh Laghu Udyog Nigam.

Earlier on September 7, 2007, Income Tax sleuths had raided the premises of the then Health Director Yogiraj Sharma and some drug suppliers and others, including a health department store-keeper. The State Government was prompt in suspending Dr. Sharma, who was given compulsory retirement in the midst of demands for his prosecution under the anti-corruption law.

Later, Dr. Sharma went to the High Court challenging his compulsory retirement. In his petition, he said that there was no adverse remark in his confidential reports. He also said that he had been removed from service only because the Income Tax department had found assets disproportionate to his known sources of income.

His argument was that the money seized by the IT sleuths and the house where he lived belonged to his son, who was doing business abroad.

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