Chennai: In what could well be the biggest chain of raids in recent times, the income-tax department on Thursday unleashed a massive army of 1,600 officers to conduct searches in over 180 premises linked to expelled AIADMK leader TTV Dhinakaran and his jailed aunt V.K. Sasikala. The ‘Operation Clean Money’, which began in the early hours of the day in multiple places almost simultaneously for unearthing black money and tax evasion, continued till late night and will carry on through Friday as well, IT department sources said.
They said “several documents” were seized in the raids and special teams would work ‘overtime’ to assess the possible links and the need for further probing. The workforce for the massive operation was drafted from neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala, apart from home state Tamil Nadu. The raided places — 187 to be precise, 12 of them in Chennai — included Jaya TV channel and Namadhu MGR newspaper offices, owned by the Sasikala family and at one time perceived to be the AIADMK organs. Among the places raided were TTV’s office close to his Adyar house JayaHarini, where he was performing goh-pooja (worshipping cow) along with his wife when an I-T official landed early morning, his 100-acre farmhouse close to Puducherry, the Midas brewery said to belong to the Sasikala family and the Kodanad estate in Nilgiris where Jayalalithaa used to often rest along with friend Sasikala.
Putting up a brave face before the mass of TV cameras outside his gates soon after the news of the raids erupted, TTV alleged that Centre had triggered the taxmen’s operation clearly “aimed at eliminating me and Chinnamma (Sasikala) from the political arena”.
He swore that he, and all the others in his camp, would not be cowed down by the raids, which “can at worst put me in jail for some years and cannot hang me”. Even if it meant being in jail for the next 40 years, he would still come out as a septuagenarian and capture control after vanquishing the rivals, TTV declared.
“I have faced tough challenges for long. I have even seen the Tihar jail, so what's this for me?” said TTV. He was referring to his incarceration in Tihar for a little over a month during April-May this year after being accused of trying to bribe Election Commission officials to secure the AIADMK's Two Leaves symbol for the Sasikala faction-he is now out on bail in this case. TTV also wanted to know the fate of the raids on Shekhar Reddy (said to be close to former chief secretary Rama Mohan Rao).
Brushing aside the TTV charge that the tax raids were political vendetta and inspired by ulterior motives, BJP state president Dr Tamilisai Sounderarajan said the taxmen were merely carrying out their duty. The war on black money in Tamil Nadu has now begun in right earnest, she averred. Former Union law minister and BJP senior Dr Subramaniam Swamy once again bowled a googly to embarrass his government at the Centre. “In addition to data on Sasikala in the courts I had given a 30-page note to authorities on MK's and daughter's frauds. Why no raids yet?” he tweeted....