CBI searches residence of Ashok Gehlot's brother

The Central Bureau of Investigation on Friday searched the Jodhpur residence of Agrasen Gehlot, brother of Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot, among around 15 locations in Rajasthan, Gujarat and West Bengal. It has registered a case against Agrasen Gehlot and 14 others on charges of alleged diversion of fertilisers meant for farmers and causing a loss of approximately Rs 52.8 crore to the government exchequer.

These include private companies based in Gujarat, Rajasthan, and West Bengal among others, and their director, proprietors, partners and unknown others. CBI registered an FIR in the case earlier this week, after initially launched a preliminary enquiry. The agency has alleged that the accused have exported muriate of potash (MOP) – a restricted item that can be exported only with prior permission of the central government – in the guise of feldspar powder or industrial salt. Indian Potash Ltd supplies imported MOP to farmers at subsidised rates through its authorised dealers and claims the subsidy from the Centre.

CBI has alleged that Gehlot had hatched a conspiracy during 2007 to 2009 with others including unknown officials of Central Board of Excise and Customs, and Indian Potash, to ‘fraudulently purchase and export’ 24,003 million tonnes of MOP, ‘causing loss of subsidy of approx. Rs 52.8 crore’ to the Centre.

CBI alleged that to cover up the transaction, they ‘showed fictitious purchase’ of feldspar powder or industrial salt through dealers in Rajasthan and Kolkata.

It might be mentioned here that the Enforcement Directorate (ED) is also investigating the case on charges of money laundering. Gehlot was quizzed by ED last year in connection with the case.

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