Income Tax department's raids on the residences of three businessmen considered close to the ruling Biju Janata Dal in by-poll bound Padampur Assembly seat in Odisha's Bargarh district on Monday, led to a slugfest between the BJD and the opposition BJP here.
Denouncing the IT raids amid intense campaigning in Padampur by-polls, senior BJD leader and MLA Sashi Busan Behera said: "The IT raids during the by-elections are not acceptable. IT had all the days to raid any place, but, unfortunately, they conducted it during the by-polls."
The IT raids were underway at the residence of three businessmen - Md Sajid of Bahidarpada, Manabhanjan Sahu of Sahupada and Gaju Agrawal of Badapada area in poll-bound Padampur.
The three businessmen were supporters of late BJD MLA Bijay Ranjan Singh Barsha, whose death necessitated a by-poll in Padampur on December 5. The BJD candidate in the by-election is Bariha's daughter Barsha Singh Bariha.
The BJP, however, justified the IT raids. BJP state general secretary Prithviraj Harichandan said: "It is unfortunate that some people are opposing IT raids. Should the investigating agency probing into different crimes wait for the election to be over? The IT conducts raids as and when they get confirmed information regarding irregularities."
The IT department raided the residences of three businessmen with CRPF jawans engaged for security. The CRPF jawans were brought from neighbouring Chhattisgarh for IT raids, police sources said.
A three-member team of Padampur police led by local SDPO Bibhuti Bhusan Bhoi visited the residence of Md Sajid at Bahidarpada after an advocate complained to the Padampur police station.
"We were requisitioned by the IT and also following a complaint lodged by an advocate of Sajid," said the SDPO.
The local police said it received a complaint from advocate Prasant Mohanty, who alleged that he was prevented from entering the residence of his client Sajid during the raid.
However, the reason behind the raids is yet to be confirmed, they added.