Virbhadra's apples worth crores went by scooters and oil tanker, finds I-T

Virbhadra SinghAuthorities have decided to “reopen” Singh’s income tax assessment for 2010-11. (PTI)

If cattle rode scooters to facilitate the fodder scam in Bihar, claims that two-wheelers and an oil tanker were used to transport tonnes of apples from Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh's orchards could give a fresh twist to the alleged bribery scandal surrounding his tenure as a Union minister.

Income tax authorities in the state have allegedly stumbled upon these startling revelations while investigating Singh's claims of "agriculture income" worth Rs 6.56 crore in the three years starting 2009-10.

Earlier this week, sources said, income tax authorities sent separate notices to Virbhadra and Anand Chouhan, the insurance agent who was said to be managing the CM's Srikhand orchards in Rampur, questioning their claims about the sale of apples that had generated the agricultural income for Virbhadra.

The authorities have decided to "reopen" Singh's income tax assessment for 2010-11 following detection of discrepancies, it is learnt.

A close aide of the chief minister, however, said, "It has not come to our knowledge", when The Indian Express reached him for comment.

Chouhan, sources said, had claimed to have sold the apples to Chunnilal of Universal Apple Associate in Parwanoo. Chunnilal gave tax authorities registration numbers of 18 vehicles, which he claimed had been used to bring the apples from Virbhadra's orchards.

Investigation by income tax authorities found that two of these are of scooters — HP 06 0768 and HP 06 1123.

Another number (HP 63 4975) was that of an oil tanker. Yet another number (HP 06 4975) had not been allotted at all, it was found. Many other numbers were those of "tripper" vehicles that are not used for transporting apples. Other numbers looked almost similar: HP 63 4975, HP 64 4975, and HP 69 4975.

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