In a press meet held on July 5, 2018, the Congress revealed details about a ‘bitcoin scam’ that took place in Gujarat wherein several BJP leaders were involved. According to Congress spokesperson Shaktisinh Gohil, the scam involved more than 5000 crore Indian rupees while vernacular newspapers have estimated the scam to be at more than 88,00 crores. While Gohil has demanded a Supreme Court monitored probe into the matter, the BJP spokesperson Anil Baluni said that the state police had unearthed the bitcoin scam case and that the probe was on.
Gohil also alleged that while the demonitisation move made by the BJP government had wreaked havoc in the lives of the general public, it was a jackpot for a lot of BJP leaders. Crime Investigation Department, (CID) Gujarat thinks that after demonitisation, Surat started generating bitcoin mines with the banned notes. The BJP leaders started their own bitcoin chain with this, said Gohil.
Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency which is a form of electronic cash (e-cash). Indian government had cautioned people against cryptocurrencies because of the potential economic, financial, operational, legal, customer protection, and security-related risks involved in dealing with them. Finance minister Arun Jaitley had clarified that the Indian government did not consider cryptocurrencies to be legal tender.
However, Reliance, India’s biggest business group had announced earlier this year that they were venturing into cryptocurrency. The project was called ‘JioCoin’ and Mukesh Ambani’s son Akash Ambani was to head it.
As of now, the value of 1 bitcoin is estimated to be around 5 lakh Indian rupees.
Gohil alleged that BJP leaders, police officers and Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) officers blackmailed people who were engaged in bitcoin transactions. In return for impunity from legal action, they demanded that specific wallets be transferred with bitcoin cash. They were also asked to pay huge amounts in Indian currency. The matter came to light when one of the people, Sailesh Bhatt, who got blackmailed in this manner approached Gujarat’s Minister of State for Home with a complaint. Bhatt also accused former BJP MLA Nalin Kotadiya to be the mastermind behind this chain of bitcoin blackmailing-extortion scam and at present, the politician is absconding. Sailesh Bhatt who is a builder from Surat, also said in his complaint that the Amreli district police had extorted 200 bitcoins (Rs. 10 crore) from him apart from Rs. 32 crore in Indian rupees.
Gohil also asked why Jagdish Patel, the Superintendent of Police (SP), who was involved in the case, was transferred to North-East India without taking any action against him.
It is also said that the absconding former BJP MLA Kotadiya has threatened the party saying that he would reveal names of higher level BJP officials who were involved in the scam if he was arrested. The police have now filed a case against Sailesh Bhatt after he went to the ministry to complain about the blackmailing and he too is absconding, “Blackmoney and extortion – its epicentre is BJP and platform is Gujarat,” Gohil alleged.
This is not the first time that BJP is reaping benefits out of the demonitisation move while the rest of the nation suffered and even died due to it. Demonitisation was implemented without prior notice or plan of action. On the night of November 8, 2016, PM Modi went on TV to tell the people of the nation that notes of 500 and 1000 rupees would not be valid. The government gave time till December 30, 2016 for people to dispose their old notes.On June 22, an RTI (Right to Information) query revealed that 745.58 crore rupees in old notes was deposited in Ahmedabad District Cooperative Bank (ADCB) within five days of demonitisation and this is particularly interesting since the BJP President Amit Shah is the director of ADCB. D The deposit made in record time in ADCB indicates that the BJP leaders were well aware of the move and were prepared for it unlike other Indians.