ED raids Gehlot's brother for exports in 2009
The Enforcement Directorate on Wednesday raided the premises of Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot’s elder brother in connection with an alleged fertiliser scam dating from over a decade ago, a day after the CBI questioned the officer on special duty to Gehlot over the suspected suicide of a police officer in May.
All the three main central probe agencies — the income-tax department, CBI and the ED — are now in action in Rajasthan at a time when Congress veteran Gehlot is trying to stave off attempts involving party rebels and the BJP to dislodge his government.
Gehlot has accused the BJP of trying to topple his government by offering MLAs Rs 15 crore each. His now-sacked deputy, Sachin Pilot, has been leading a rebellion against him.
Sources said the ED on Wednesday carried out raids and searches at several places across the country in connection with the purported 2007-09 fertiliser scam, including the premises of Agrasain Gehlot, brother of Ashok Gehlot and promoter of a seeds and fertiliser company named Anupam Krishi.
The searches were conducted by ED officials at 13 places — six in Rajasthan, four in Gujarat, two in Bengal and one in Delhi.
“The company run by Agrasain Gehlot had in connivance with some other firms exported the subsidised fertiliser muriate of potash (MoP) during 2007-2009 even though it is not allowed to be exported. MoP is meant to be given to Indian farmers at subsidised rates,” an ED official said.
The BJP had in 2017 accused Agrasain of exporting at bloated rates fertiliser meant for subsidised sale to Indian farmers between 2007 and 2009 when the UPA was in power at the Centre.
“Agrasain Gehlot, through his company Anupam Krishi, bought the MoP at subsidised rates and later sold it at high prices to countries like Malaysia and Singapore as industrial salt,” the ED official said, adding that the government had incurred a loss of Rs 60 crore.
The directorate of revenue intelligence had first red-flagged the alleged scam in 2012-2013 and later the ED had filed a money-laundering case against three firms and their owners, including Agrasain.
Asked about the ED’s sudden raids in connection with an alleged scam dating back to 2007-2009, the ED official said there was no connection between the agency’s actions and the political turmoil in Rajasthan.
“It’s just a coincidence. Our officers have been working on the case for a long time,” he told The Telegraph.