UP Elections: Inside the Political Storm Engulfing the Shikhar Gutka Group


New Delhi: Pan masala manufacturer Shikhar Gutka Group, which was catapulted into the maelstrom of the UP elections last month, is no stranger to tax raids. Data accessed from the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) database indicates that the company has been on the receiving end of recurrent raids by the tax authorities, the earliest one going as far back as 2003.

The MCA documents also curiously reveal that as of FY’20, the manufacturers of Shikhar Gutka are investors in a New Delhi-based real estate company, Signature Global Private Limited, that has thrived over the years by aligning its business model with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s flagship scheme, the Pradhan Mantri Aawas Yojana.

But where do these connections begin and where do they end?

The tale of two P. Jains

Earlier in December, in the run-up to the fiercely contested Uttar Pradesh assembly elections, news broke that the Directorate General of GST Intelligence (DGGI), Ahmedabad, with the aid of local officers of Central GST Office, raided the factory premises of Trimurti Fragrances Private Limited, the company which manufactures Shikhar Gutka in Kanpur.

The office and godowns of Ganpati Road carriers, run by one Praveen Jain, were also raided. Following up on this investigative lead, the DGGI ended up raiding two houses and the factory premises of his relative Piyush Jain, which reportedly led to the discovery of the biggest illegal stash of cash in the history of the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC), under which the DGGI operates.

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