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‘Political act’, says Bhupesh Baghel after ED arrests his top aide Saumya Chaurasia

Raipur: Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel on Friday (December 2, 2022) reacted to the Enforcement Directorate (ED) arresting his top aide Saumya Chaurasia and called it a “political act”. The probe agency on Friday arrested Saumya, a deputy secretary posted in Chhattisgarh Chief Minister’s office, in connection with an alleged coal levy scam in the state. 

“As I keep on saying, the arrest of my Deputy Secretary Soumya Chaurasia by the ED is a political act. We will fight against it with full strength,” Baghel said in a tweet in Hindi.

Chaurasia, meanwhile, has been sent to the custody of the ED for four days. She was produced before Additional District and Sessions Judge Ajay Singh Rajput after her arrest on Friday, said Chaurasia’s lawyer Faizal Rizvi. 

The ED sought her 14-day custody but the special court granted only four days’ custody after hearing the arguments, he added. 

The ED, while seeking her remand, mentioned an alleged land purchase by the officer which came under the purview of the Income Tax Department and she had already given clarification about this deal, advocate Rizvi said. 

The ED presumed that the money used for land purchase might have come from the coal levy scam, he said. 

ED lawyer Saurabh Kumar Pandey claimed that the central agency had enough evidence against Chaurasia in the case. 

Chaurasia, considered a powerful bureaucrat, was arrested under the PMLA after questioning. 

Baghel last week had accused the probe agency of crossing its limits and treating people inhumanely. 

The ED in October carried out multi-city raids in the state as part of its probe. It arrested IAS officer Sameer Vishnoi, coal trader Suryakant Tiwari, his uncle Laxmikant Tiwari and another coal businessman Sunil Agrawal. All four are in jail in judicial custody. 

The money laundering investigation was launched after the ED took cognisance of an Income Tax department complaint. 

It pertained to “a massive scam in which an illegal levy of Rs 25 per tonne was being extorted for every tonne of coal transported in Chhattisgarh by a cartel involving senior bureaucrats, businessmen, politicians and middlemen”, the ED has said.

(With agency inputs)

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