Surat Police arrested a textile trader on Saturday for allegedly demanding Rs 5 lakh each from 1,033 traders in the Surat Textile Market under the guise of paying the lease amount to the Surat Municipal Municipal Corporation. The textile trader sent a WhatsApp message to the traders which also stated that Rs 1 lakh of said amount is for BJP, police said.
According to the police, Dinesh Rathod, an official of the Surat Textile Market association, had sent messages to textile traders demanding two checks of Rs 5 lakh, to pay the lease of the textile market to SMC – one for Rs 4 lakh and one for other. for Rs 1 lakh to be paid to BJP.
The accused was arrested after Surat City BJP Chairman Niranjan Janjhmera filed a complaint against the textile trader at Salabatpura Police Station on Friday.
In the complaint, Janjhmera alleged that on Friday he came across a WhatsApp message in Gujarat which read, “This is a humble request to all market traders (of Surat Textile Market), to deposit a rental amount of Rs 5 lakh. (for each textile trader), before March 5. Payment should be made in two checks, one of Rs 4 lakh for Surat Textile Market and another of Rs 1 lakh for Bharatiya Janata Party (which is refundable).
The Surat Textile Market Association has to pay the lease amount to SMC for the land on which the textile market operates. The SMC had leased the land for the textile market about 50 years ago for a period of 99 years, on the condition that the rental charges be revised after 50 years.
“In 2018, the 50-year period came to an end and Surat Municipal Corporation revised the tariffs to Rs 127 crore. The market association had reached an agreement with the municipal company and had asked for a certain delay for new tariffs and requested payment facilities,” said a trader.
Investigator in charge of the case, Sub-Inspector PY Chitte from Salabatpura Police Station, said: “We arrested the accused today (Saturday). We also spoke to some of the members of the association’s office and found out that it was Rathod who was sending the messages to the traders. We have not yet found the amount that has been deposited by traders…”