Policemen outside the shop in Ranchi on Thursday. Picture by Prashant Mitra
Ranchi police have lodged an FIR against the politically influential firecracker mogul Vimal Singhania, his brothers Kamal and Jai as well as others for attacking and injuring five income tax (I-T) officials on Thursday.
According to Kotwali police, the case was registered under IPC sections 323, (causing hurt), 341/42 (unlawful assembly), 307 (attempt to murder) and 353 (assault or criminal force to prevent public servant from discharging his duty) of IPC. Two sections are non-bailable.
The Singhanias, who dominate the firecracker market in Jharkhand, are close to both JMM and BJP.
Reacting strongly to the incident, K.K. Sinha, chief I-T commissioner, in a news meet on Friday, said: “The agency is and continues to be fearless.”
Trouble brew on Thursday afternoon when a team of assistant commissioner (I-T) Vidya Ratna Kishore, I-T inspectors, Kundan Pandey, Patrus Ekka and R. P. Singh, and I-T officer Manish Kumar raided Trade Friend owned by Singhania at Upper Bazar, the capital’s firecracker hub.
The team was allegedly detained and thrashed. I-T assistant commissioner Kishore and others sustained injuries during the ensuing scuffle.
In his defence, Vimal Singhania called it a case of “mistaken identity”.
“The I-T officials raided without introducing themselves. My employees mistook them for robbers,” he said.
Rubbishing this claim, I-T sources termed the bashing a well-managed plan.
An I-T official claimed that the department acted on a tip-off about a Rs 1-crore stash and documents of unaccounted investments. “The ruckus was created to distract the team and successfully remove the cash and papers,” he said.
The I-T team seized two hard disks, bill vouchers and stock books.
On July 6, when JMM scion Hemant Soren struck a deal with Congress to lead a coalition government, the unending crackers that the JMM supporters burst outside the residence of party chief Shibu Soren came from the Singhanias. On July 13, when Hemant took oath as chief minister, Singhania crackers added to the noisy festivity.
Interestingly, the business family was close to former chief minister Arjun Munda.