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As the March 31 deadline for depositing unaccounted money under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana (PMGKY) draws closer, the Income Tax department has started raiding small Surat traders who deposited huge amounts of cash. Surat has so far seen disclosures amounting to Rs 100 crore under the PMGKY.
The traders who have faced I-T action include cosmetics sellers, chicken shop owners, grocers, footwear shop owners, tobacco and cigarette traders, vegetable vendors and airconditioner repair shops, after officials collected data of those who had deposited more than Rs 2.50 lakh in bank accounts post-demonetisation, and not responded to I-T notices or summons.
The city saw over Rs 18,000 crore of deposits after old notes were scrapped. The Surat district cooperative bank topped among all the banks, with deposits of Rs 340 crore.
The first small trader in I-T net was a tea and snacks seller, Kishore Bhajiyawala, from whose house and office the department claimed to have seized Rs 3.54 crore. Officials said they found he was a financier, running a firm in the name of his son Jignesh Bhajiyawala. Enforcement Directorate officials arrested Jignesh on January 20 from Surat and he remains in judicial custody.
On Monday, I-T officials raided a potato chips distributor in Katargam area of Surat, reportedly after he deposited Rs 1 crore in cash in his bank account after demonetisation. A few days ago, Alishan Chicken Centre in Saiyedpura was raided after its owner Abdul Jabbar deposited over Rs 1 crore post demonetisation and did not respond to I-T notices.
Refusing to talk about the amount he deposited under the PMGKY, Jabbar told The Sunday Express, “We bring chicken from poultry farms in Jalgaon district in Maharashtra and sell it here in local markets. We do not make much profit. This is the first time the I-T Department carried out raids on my shop. Now we are on guard and will maintain clear accounts.”
Sagar Modi, who runs an airconditioner and refrigeration services shop in the basement of a building in Sagrampura, was also raided reportedly after failing to reply to an I-T notice. Sources said the firm’s account books disclosed a monthly income of Rs 1 lakh but Modi had deposited Rs 17 lakh in his account post demonetisation. Sources said Modi was also a contractor for servicing of ACs and refrigerators.
Modi said they had never been raided before. “We have suffered huge losses, and are afraid some other agency will also target us.”
Top sources in the tax department said they were also investigating the case of a 65-year-old woman who had a Rs 5,000 balance pre-demonetisation in her bank account, and later, saw a Rs 25 lakh cash deposit in it. She was questioned a couple of days ago.
Sources said the woman has claimed that the money was her son’s, and that he had given her the Rs 25 lakh and told her not to disclose this to his wife. Soon after, she said, he had died, and she was stuck with the money.
The other cases under investigation include that of a grocery and provisions store, a woman vegetable vendor, a footwear shop owner, a cosmetics shop, an oil depot and a tobacco cigarette trader, a pharmacy shop, and a furniture shop, with deposits ranging between Rs 35 lakh and Rs 10.32 crore.