MUMBAI: Income tax (IT) officials swooped down just after dawn Thursday on several properties belonging to the country’s biggest onion traders in Nashik district.
Consequently, auctions of the commodity were affected at Lasalgaon, the largest onion market in the country.
According to preliminary information, houses, offices and warehouses of seven big onion traders were being searched across Nashik district. The raids were continuing in the afternoon, said a senior IT official.
Officers of the Nashik division of the Income Tax Department are conducting the raids, he added.
Among those subjected to the searches are two onion traders from Lasalgaon and one each from Chandwad, Satana, Umrane, Yeola and Pimpalgaon Baswant. The traders at Pimpalgaon Baswant is known to be the largest exporter of onion, the official said.
Officials have seized documents from the traders’ offices and are trying to assess the volume of their transactions in the past month. Their warehouses have been sealed and officials are seeking detailed information on storage of onion, sources told New Indian Express.
However, the source did not reveal what triggered the raids. According to sources within the trading community, the surge in onion prices last month is being seen as the trigger for the raids. But others feel that the raids might be linked to the huge cash deposits made at the Nashik District Central Cooperative (NDCC) Bank last year after demonetization. Over Rs 300 crore were deposited to the NDCC bank back then.
Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee officials at Lasalgaon confirmed that auctions have been affected today on account of the raids. Though there has been no official statement in this regard, auctions are not taking place due to traders being preoccupied with the ongoing searches, said an APMC official from Lasalgaon.