Charcoal trader and four others arrested in Assam for tax evasion worth millions

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SHILLONG/GUWAHATI, Feb 11: Balwant Soni alias Bhama, a coal trader, was arrested on Wednesday in a tax evasion case along with four other people from Basistha area in Guwahati.
The arrests were made on the basis of an FIR filed by the Assam Revenue Department regarding the theft of Rs 40 crore.
Over the past month, Bhama allegedly bought a Jeep, a Fortuner and heavy machinery (excavators) – mostly with money he illegally siphoned off using his electronic way bills from coal businessmen in Gasuapara in the hills south of Garo. .
Assam Police explained the charges but did not provide an estimate of the amount of tax evaded, saying the matter would become clearer in a few days. More arrests in the case are expected in the coming days, police sources said.
Bhama’s arrest is likely to embarrass the Meghalaya government as the entire operation – from mining to transport to export – was taking place in the state while electronic transport invoices were generated from the state. ‘Assam on behalf of Bhama society.
The coal was illegally transported allegedly with the blessing of the powers that be. Despite coal tax looting or reports of illegal coal transportation, no investigation has been conducted by the state to date.
Earlier, flagging the issue of illegal coal mining, All India Trinamool Congress Leader Mukul Sangma promised to raise the issue with Chief Secretary RV Suchiang for an investigation. However, for unknown reasons, no complaint was filed with her. The party also chose to remain silent afterwards.
Only Bhama’s business was allowed to operate by the state government. Its electronic invoices could be used to export coal to Bangladesh via Gasuapara.
On paper, the coal was transported from Assam through the Dainadubi control gate in North Garo Hills. However, the reality on the ground was completely different.
No trucks carrying coal entered the state from Assam via Dainadubi. The Dainadubi control barrier is equipped with CCTV cameras. Whether or not the coal was brought to the state from Assam can be verified using these cameras.
According to reports on the ground, thousands of trucks loaded with charcoal were sent to Bangladesh through the Gasuapara land customs post. As no challan was issued, this caused a huge loss of revenue for the state, estimated at millions of rupees.
Assam police are interviewing the five people. A case (number 180/22 under sections 120 (B)/468/420/471) has been registered at Basistha Police Station.
Police, however, did not release further details.
“We cannot release the details as they are being questioned,” D. Goyari, head of Basistha Police Station, told the Shillong Times on Friday night. (Continued P-4)
Coal merchant, four others arrested…
(Continued from P-1) Asked about Bhama’s background and if he had any connection to the illegal charcoal trade in Garo Hills, the police officer only said he was from Assam and was arrested in the city.
Guwahati Police Co-Commissioner Partha Sarathi Mahanta had earlier informed the media that the scale of the tax evasion was estimated at several million rupees.
Multiple phone calls from this correspondent to senior police officials, including the Deputy Commissioner of Police (East), however, went unanswered.
Unofficial sources said that Bhama, engaged in the coal trade in the Basistha region, and four others – Bikash Sharma, Bajrang Sharma, Surender and Jagjit Bhama – were arrested based on an FIR filed by the department. of Taxes, Assam, to Basistha Police. station.
“The five accused charcoal smugglers are from Haryana. They resided in the Beltola area here and are said to have operated coal business here. They have been charged with evading GST to the tune of Rs 40 crore by the Revenue Department, Assam,” the source told the Shillong Times.
A vehicle (Fortuner), registration number ML11 A 0117, was seized from their possession by police after they were arrested by Basistha Police here on Wednesday. They are also believed to own a JCB dumper and operator etc, the source said.
Sources further indicated that raids are being carried out by the tax department.


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