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CM Baghel rubbishes allegations of liquor scam in Chhattisgarh, terms ED ‘agent’ of BJP

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Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel on Monday called the Enforcement Directorate an “agent” of the Bharatiya Janata Party and dubbed the ED’s claim of unearthing an alleged liquor scam in the state as false and baseless.

As the Assembly polls were nearing in the state, the “disappointed” BJP was trying to defame the Congress government using the ED, he claimed.

The state polls are due this year-end.

The ED on Saturday arrested liquor businessman Anwar Dhebar, the brother of Congress leader and Raipur Mayor Aijaz Dhebar, in connection with an alleged liquor scam.

In its remand application filed in a special court here seeking remand of Anwar, the ED claimed there was a “massive scam” in liquor trade in Chhattisgarh by a syndicate, comprising high-level state government officials, private persons and political executives, that generated corruption money of more than Rs 2,000 crore between 2019-22.

The ED said Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer Anil Tuteja was the “kingpin” of the syndicate along with Anwar and the corruption money was also used for electioneering.

Tuteja, a 2003 batch IAS officer, is posted as joint secretary in state’s industry and commerce department.

Talking to reporters at a helipad in Raipur, Baghel said, “The allegation of Rs 2,000 crore liquor scam in the state has been levelled by the ED just to save its reputation after it failed to unearth anything during its raids and investigation. The allegation is completely false, baseless and condemnable.” .

Baghel claimed the ED and other central agencies have been acting as “agent” of the BJP. Their only work is to ensure the BJP benefits in elections, he said.

But, no matter how many conspiracies the central agency hatches, the BJP will not succeed. The Congress government will expose every conspiracy of BJP leaders and the ED, the CM said.

He also termed the ED’s claim of decline in revenue collection from liquor in the state as “baseless” and said the data shows a significant rise in revenue collected from liquor sale under the current Congress government as compared to the previous BJP regime.

“It was the Raman Singh-led BJP government’s decision to sell liquor through a corporation in 2017 in the state. No change was made in distilleries, officers, transporters and placement agencies linked to the liquor trade in the state since 2017. The revenue collection from liquor increased from Rs 3,900 crore in 2017-18 to Rs 6,000 crore in 2022-23 which clearly shows that the ED’s claim of decline in revenue collection due to alleged corruption is baseless,” Baghel said.

The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has conducted audits of the state’s excise department and given it a clean chit, he claimed.

“The opposition BJP is left with no issues to raise in Chhattisgarh. Out of disappointment, it has been using the ED to hatch a conspiracy to defame the state government as the Assembly election is nearing in the state,” the CM said.

In February 2020, the Income Tax department from Delhi carried out searches against those linked to the excise (liquor trade) in the state, he said.

But it is a matter of shame that the agency could not even reveal how much movable or immovable assets were recovered from whom. Again in March this year, the ED conducted raids which also turned out to be a failure as the anti-money laundering agency did not issue any press note about recovery made during the searches, Baghel said.

He claimed the ED forced people to sign on false statements by threatening and torturing them. They even deliberately interrogated women till late night to harass them, he said claiming “the agency indulged in propagating a fictitious story of the scam through conspiracy and terror”.


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