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Dalit farmers from Gujarat 'tricked' into buying electoral bonds worth Rs 11 cr: Report

A Welspun official allegedly scammed Dalit victims into investing in electoral bonds.
Last Updated : 10 April 2024, 14:14 IST

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Six members of a Dalit family from Gujarat were reportedly tricked into purchasing electoral bonds worth Rs 11,00,14,000 on October 11, 2023.

Of this, Rs 10 crore worth of bonds were encashed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), while the Shiv Sena took Rs 1 crore 14 thousand.

An official of Welspun Enterprises Ltd allegedly scammed the Dalit victims, promising them that their money would increase 1.5 times in a few years if they invested in the electoral bonds. Welspun has not commented on the same.

The incident came after the company acquired around 43,000 square meter of their land and persuaded the Dalits to use the money that they got as compensation to buy bonds on the pretext of avoiding trouble with the Income Tax Department, as per a report in The Quint.

"Welspun had acquired approximately 43,000 square meter of our agricultural land in Anjar for a project. This money was part of the compensation we were given as per law. But at the time of depositing this money, Mahendrasinh Sodha, a Senior General Manager at the company, told us that such a huge amount can result in trouble with the income tax department..." said Haresh Savakara, the son of one of the six duped in the deal.

"He then introduced us to the electoral bond scheme, which he said would ensure that we get 1.5 times the amount in a few years. We are illiterate people. We had no clue what this scheme was but at that time it sounded very convincing," added Savakara.

Haresh Savakara has named "Welspun Directors Vishwanathan Kollengode, Sanjay Gupta, Chintan Thaker, and Praveen Bhansali as the accused in the case along with Mahendrasinh Sodha (Senior General Manager at Welspun), Vimal Kishore Joshi (Anjar Land Acquisition Officer), and Hemant alias Danny Rajinikanth Shah (BJP's Anjar City President)," in the statement released on the behalf of all the duped victims.

However, no police report has been filed in the case yet. The investigating officer has said "if the case merits an FIR", they will file it once the investigation is complete.

As per the report, Welspun employee Mahendrasinh Sodha who was involved in the acquisition process, held four meetings with Savakara and his son Haresh at Welspun's Guest House in the company's compound between 1 October 2023 and 8 October 2023. He eventually convinced them to invest money in the electoral bond scheme citing income tax trouble and handsome returns.

Moreover, he also alleged that BJP Anjar City President Hemant Rajinikanth Shah was part of these meetings. However, Shah has refuted these claims.

Delivering a historic judgment on a batch of petitions challenging the validity of the 'Electoral Bonds Scheme', the Supreme Court in February held it "unconstitutional" and violative of the Right to Information and Article 19(1)(a). Two separate but unanimous verdicts were delivered by a five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud.

Since then, the Opposition has been taking potshots at the ruling BJP over the magnitude of donations it had received since the beginning of the scheme.

Notified by the government on January 2, 2018, the scheme was pitched as an alternative to cash donations made to political parties as part of efforts to bring transparency in political funding.

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Published 10 April 2024, 14:14 IST

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