Rs 9 crore seized from Vellore godown by tax officials; DMK boss cries foul
The political row, which erupted over searches conducted by the tax department, comes days after chief minister HD Kumaraswamy in neighbouring Karnataka had led a street protest outside the tax department office in the state.Updated: Apr 01, 2019 18:54 IST
Income tax officials have seized Rs 9 crore from a cement godown during raids at premises linked to a prominent DMK leader, prompting the opposition party in Tamil Nadu to see motives in the tax raids.
“It is meant to threaten us,” said DMK chief MK Stalin even as his party leader Durai Murugan and his son rushed to the Madras High Court for relief.
The political row, which erupted over searches conducted by the tax department, comes days after chief minister HD Kumaraswamy in neighbouring Karnataka had led a street protest outside the tax department office in the state.
The protests have been much muted in Tamil Nadu. It helped, tax officials said, that their teams had been able to seize bundles of currency notes packed in cartons and gunny bags. The currency notes had ward numbers written on them to ease distribution, a senior income tax official said.
“After a tip-off from a politician, we raided the premises of DMK leader and party treasurer Durai Murugan, whose son Kathir Anand is DMK’s candidate for the Vellore LS seat. We seized a huge sum of money that had been moved from a private engineering college to a cement godown owned by one Srinivasan,” an IT official said.
IT officials also carried out searches at other premises owned by the DMK leader. Search operations have also begun at DMK block secretary Perumal’s residence in Virudhampattu Vanchur village. Durai Murugan’s secretary Askar Ali’s residence has also come under the IT scanner.
The DMK leader and his son have moved the Madras High Court, claiming that the IT raids were designed to prevent them from carrying out work related to the polls.
“Kathir Anand is the DMK candidate for the Vellore LS seat. However, the IT officials have held him inside the house. They are not allowing Anand to be involved in any campaign work. This seems like a politically motivated act. So, we plead with the court to pass orders to set him free,” Richard Wilson, counsel for Kathir Anand argued.
The high court’s Justice Anitha Sumanth, however, asked the two to file a proper petition for initiating a hearing on Tuesday.
DMK leader M K Stalin has asserted that the raids were politically motivated.
“The IT department has raided Durai Murugan’s house. It is meant to threaten us. However, we DMK men will not worry about this. I want to question the Election Commission and IT officials whether they are ready to raid the CM’s house? IT officials have seized a huge sum of money from contractor Sabesan’s house in Chennai. We have heard that Sabesan is a close aide of the Local Body Administration Minister S P Velumani. Will the IT or EC initiate any action?” Stalin asked.
But the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) has accused the DMK of carrying out an operation called ‘Blue Sky’ to distribute cash for votes.
“The DMK has been planning to distribute Rs 100 crore in each Lok Sabha seat. They have sent the money to their district level office bearers. We have got to know that they have named this operation ‘Blue Sky’. The people should know the DMK’s true intentions,” TN Fisheries Minister D Jayakumar said.
Stalin, however, slammed the EC and IT officials claiming that they were telling lies that the police had given information about the money. “Now, I am openly giving you information. Bundles of currency are available in the CM’s house. Will you initiate a raid?” he questioned.
Satyabrata Sahoo, Chief Electoral Officer, Tamil Nadu said that they were yet to receive the official report from the IT department.
“The IT officials are still carrying out the raids. They are also counting the cash. We have to identify whether the cash belongs to the candidate or the party. Once we receive the report from IT, it will be escalated to the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) of India,” he said.
When asked if there was a possibility of elections being postponed in Vellore, Sahoo said that it had to be decided by the CEC. “We cannot say anything now. It will be decided by the CEC,” the CEO maintained.