The Income Tax Department found about 24 ‘benami’ assets worth Rs 127 crore belonging to Mukhtar Ansari, a gangster-turned-politician, in Uttar Pradesh and other places. The department has launched ‘Operation Panther’ to identify Ansari’s alleged benami assets and finances. On Tuesday, the department’s Lucknow benami assets investigation unit attached the first benami property, a land parcel located in Ghazipur district worth about Rs 1.29 crore. The benamidar in this case has been identified as Ganesh D Mishra, a neighbour of Ansari, while the “beneficial owner” has been named as Ansari. Benami properties are those in which the real beneficiary is not the one in whose name the property has been purchased.
The attachment order has been passed under the name and seal of Deputy Commissioner of I-T Alok K Singh under Additional Commissioner of the I-T (Benami Prohibition Unit) Dhruvpurari Singh. The department followed the “documents and money trail” in this case after going through multiple FIRs filed by the UP Police against Ansari, checking land records and numerous bank documents. Mishra had allegedly furnished a personal bond of Rs 90 lakh and had also pledged his property for a Rs 1.60 crore loan taken by a company in which Ansari’s wife and son are shareholders.
The department is in the process of attaching the rest 22 benami properties of Ansari which are estimated to be bearing a market value of over Rs 100 crore. Ansari faces 49 criminal cases that have been booked against him and aides on charges of land grabbing, murder and extortion. He is currently lodged in a jail at Banda in Uttar Pradesh. Apart from the I-T department, he is being investigated by the Enforcement Directorate too on money laundering charges.