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Income tax raids intensify against Sasikala’s relatives, business associates

Sleuths have seized incriminating documents from the premises of those people being searched, including Sasikala’s husband M Natarajan and Siva Kumar, the doctor of late CM J Jayalalithaa.

india Updated: Nov 10, 2017 17:06 IST
KV Lakshmana
KV Lakshmana
Hindustan Times, Chennai
Sasikala,VK Sasikala,J Jayalalithaa
Media persons stand in front of the Jaya TV office where Income Tax officials conducted a raid in Chennai on Thursday. Jaya TV is run by the family of jailed AIADMK leader VK Sasikala.(PTI)

The Income Tax department called in sleuths from neighbouring states on Friday as it intensified a crackdown on friends and family members of jailed AIADMK leader VK Sasikala over possible tax evasion and money laundering.

The raids, launched early on Thursday, continued for the second consecutive day across three states at residential and business premises of close relatives and business associates Sasikala, serving a jail term for corruption.

The sleuths were also looking at financial trails and shell companies allegedly operated by those under the I-T scanner.

While raids at about 40 places were over, they were continuing in more than 140 other places.

At least 1,800 sleuths were engaged in the raids with some of them called in from Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.

Sources said the IT sleuths have seized incriminating documents from the premises of those people being searched, including Sasikala’s husband M Natarajan in Thanjavur and Siva Kumar, the doctor of former chief minister J Jayalalithaa.

The IT sleuths are also likely to open bank lockers of some of the people.

On Thursday, sleuths raided the residence of Sasikala’s nephew TTV Dinakaran. Sasikala and Dinakaran lead a faction of the ruling AIADMK.

Among the business places where the raids are continuing include the Kodanad Tea Estate belonging to Jayalalithaa.

Also being searched are the offices of the Jaya TV, a propaganda machine set up by AIADMK’s matriarch Jayalalithaa in the late 90s. It is now owned by Sasikala and is looked after by her relatives in her absence.

IT sleuths allowed employees of Jaya TV to enter office. Only few employees in the HR department were being questioned, sources said.

The offices of party mouthpiece Namadhu MGR is also being searched for the second day.

Dinakaran’s close aide and MLA Nanzil Sampath has claimed that the raids were an attempt by chief minister E Palanisami and his deputy, O Panneerselvam – who lead the other faction that is in power -- to take over Jaya TV and Namadhu MGR.

Business premises searached include Jazz Cinemas, Midas Distilleries, Sharada Paper and Boards, Senthil Group of Companies and Nilgiri Furniture in Coimbatore, sources said.

Mannargudi town, from where Sasikala and her clan hail, too is witnessing raids for the second day.

Meanwhile, the opposition in Tamil Nadu questioned the raids.

DMK working president MK Stalin wondered as to what happened to a series of previous IT raids at the residence of health minister C Vijayabhaskar, former chief secretary P Rama Mohan Rao. “There has been no outcome of the raids,” Stalin said.

The BJP, on the other hand, justified the raids saying that these were based on proof and were part of Central government’s fight against black money.

BJP state unit chief Tamilisai Soundarrajan said that opposition was trying to politicise the raids as if the party was doing this to gain a foothold in Tamil Nadu.

The raids are happening because of proof that they are operating shell companies, she asserted.

First Published: Nov 10, 2017 10:34 IST