Rahul Gandhi Accuses Modi Government of Allowing Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi to Flee Despite Having Evidence
File image of Congress president Rahul Gandhi | (Photo credits: IANS)

New Delhi, December 4: Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Monday alleged that the government had evidence to arrest diamond trader Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi months before they fled the country but did not do so as Finance Minister Arun Jaitley's daughter was hired as Choksi's lawyer. He also demanded Jaitley's resignation. "8 months before they were allowed to flee, the IT department wrote a 10,000 page report on Chota Modi & Choksi's massive fraud," Gandhi said on Twitter.

"Govt had evidence to arrest them. But didn't because FM Jaitlie's (sic) daughter was hired as Choksi's lawyer," Gandhi said, adding that the finance minister must resign. With his tweet, Gandhi tagged a media report which claimed that IT report waved red flags eight months before the PNB scam broke, but was not shared with other agencies. No immediate reaction from the government was available, but both the government and Jaitley have rejected all such allegations in the past. BJP Goes All Guns Blazing Against Rahul Gandhi, Says 'He is Not Committed Hindu'.

Earlier Monday, Congress's chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala also alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Finance Minister Jaitley allowed the jewellers to flee the country. Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi are being pursued by central investigation agencies in connection with the multi-crore Punjab National Bank fraud case. The accused left India this January, a few weeks before the scam came to light. "Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley were aware about dirty dealings amounting to Rs 26,306 crore of fraudsters Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi eight months prior to their flying abroad, but it (the government) did not act," Surjewala said at a press conference in Jaipur.

Citing the 10,000-page report of the Income Tax department, he said it had finalised the report on June 8, 2017 but it was not shared with the Finance Ministry. Surjewala claimed that the probe agencies of the Finance Ministry were aware of their scam since January 2015. "This is the plain and simple reason why the Chairman of Central Board of Direct Taxes, Shri Sushil Chandra was given two extensions by the Modi government," he alleged.

He repeated the Congress charge that the Finance Minister's daughter and son-in-law, both lawyers, received a retainership from Choksi. However, Jaitley's son-in-law has issued a statement stating that his law firm had returned the retainership the moment they came to know that the company was involved in a scam.