The Income-Tax Department on Wednesday raided the residence and offices of Uttar Pradesh liquor baron Gurpreet Singh Chadha, popularly known as Ponty Chadha, who is believed to be close to UP chief minister Mayawati.
The Directorate of Criminal Investigation of Income-Tax carried out raids at 19 premises belonging to Chadha, which include his offices in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh, the company's multiplexes in Noida and his 13-acre farmhouse at Chhattarpur in Delhi. A Central Board of Direct Taxes official confirmed that 19 premises belonging to Ponty Chadha were raided in New Delhi, Noida and Moradabad.
In Lucknow, a team of the income-tax department, escorted by CRPF jawans, raided over half a dozen places, starting early in the morning continuing till evening. The income-tax sleuths declined to give any details about seizures. Raids were conducted simultaneously at Daliganj office of Flora and Fauna, Model wine shop in Hazaratganj, a wine godown in Nadarganj and Gomtinagar.
The timing of the raids is significant as they come ahead of the Uttar Pradesh assembly polls. According to an income-tax, the raid was conducted because the company was selling liquor bottles above the maximum retail price.
The Chadha Group, which is now called Wave Inc, is the only wholesale distributor of liquor in western Uttar Pradesh and has the license to operate all liquor vends in this part of the state. The group is also in the business of real estate, sugar, paper manufacturing and also runs bottling plants for Coca-Cola.
The group has allegedly amassed a large amount of land at prime locations in UP, including around 350 acres in Sector-18, Noida and 4,500 acres along the Yamuna Expressway at low rates, because of Chadha's proximity to Mayawati. Last year, BJP had alleged that the UP government had given the company 4,500 acres on the expressway in an irregular fashion. The company had recently purchased two state-owned sugar mills, which is being investigated by the state auditor.