On the first day of their indefinite hunger strike, Income-Tax (I-T) informers in Mumbai got a positive sign.
The I-T department called them “to discuss the matter”.
Five informers began their hunger strike from Monday at Azad Maidan to press for recovery of their reward money worth Rs 127 crore, which in some cases is outstanding since 22 years.
They got a call from the personal assistant (PA) of one of the senior I-T officials posted at the investigation wing of the department at Scindia House in Ballard Pier.
The PA asked the informers to come to the building to meet the official and discuss the matter.
KB Gupta (70), who is waiting for his dues totalling Rs 25 crore since 1996, said they refused the proposal.
“We demanded that either any of the senior officials from the department come to meet us personally or give us some assurance in writing,” said Gupta.
He added that “a mere telephone call from a PA won’t be enough to discontinue their strike”.
Gupta said that while five of them are on a hunger strike, they have support of seven other informers.
Informer G Sharma (52) said the department had sent a peon in the morning to confirm whether they were really going to carry out the strike.
At Scindia House, senior I-T officials held an urgent meeting to discuss the issue. More policemen were posted at Scindia House, amid fears that the informers may congregate outside the building.
The five informers, on hunger strike, have given information to the I-T officials in 101 cases, which led to recoveries of Rs 1,270 crore in tax.
The informers should have got reward at the rate of 10 per cent of this amount. However, they only got interim reward of Rs 1 lakh for every information they gave, while the major amount is still due.
The department’s failure to give rewards in time has proven costly for it. Till 1990, it had about 250 informers, now they are left with just four.