New Delhi: The Income Tax raids on the Sasikala clan have yielded “more than the expected harvest” of concealed wealth and benami holdings, which in due course could translate into “definite and concrete conclusions”, a senior official associated with the 'Operation Clean Up' (OCU) said. He said it would take “considerable time” to “catalogue and categorise” the huge seizure of documents, gold, cash and other valuables, “but work is already going on at top gear”. Pointing to the string of summons sent to the various people figuring in the raids and their suspected associates, the officer said, “We are doing our job in right earnest and progressing towards a clear and complete picture”.
Declining to respond to the accusations from the Sasikala clan as well as the opposition politicians that the raids were politically motivated, he said, “These kinds of charges from the affected parties, particularly if they are politically connected, are quite common. We are tired of them, so are the people who know the truth. In fact, we have been receiving congratulatory messages, ever since the raids began, from several known and unknown people.”
“A top official in the state government called me to say good things have started happening in Tamil Nadu”, said the OCU sleuth, driving home his argument that when the public opinion turned in favour of the taxmen's crackdown, the politicos' charges and all the wailing from the targeted individuals and institutions did not really matter. “We go by the rule book. There are clear rules and guidelines on how to go about these things. We cannot allow our work to get distracted by these allegations”, he said, adding, “Neither by the fancy media reports”.
Sounding rather bitter, the officer said the media had gone to town spinning stories on the number of officers in the OCU, the places and people raided and so on. “The media came up the figure of 1800 IT officials being involved in the raids. I do not know from where they got that fancy number. The actual deployment was 628 officers of various ranks. “And we chose to skip the high-profile politicos, including TTV Dhinakaran, Sasikala and her husband Natarajan. We did not raid the Kodanad Estate though the media insisted we did. I cannot tell you whether these will not be searched at all. Enough to say we have enough material to move to the next stage”, the officer said. For obvious reasons, he requested anonymity.
Another senior official said the raids-”the biggest in recent times”-have sent “a clear message to all, particularly those politically connected, that ultimately they will face the music and cannot escape”. Also, the ministry expects there will be higher tax compliance in future. Sources in the finance ministry said preparations for the OCP strike had begun in all seriousness more than six months ago. Elaborate screening of post-demonitisation data from the various banks and other financial institutions yielded the 'raw material' for drawing up the 'hit-list' for the raids that began on November 9 and lasted a little over five days.
And when the strike day was set, utmost secrecy was ensured. When the IT top guns informed the state DGP early morning, “just to be able to get logistic support from the police for the raid teams”, the teams were already at their allotted sites. “Intensive homework was done before we moved in. The whole operation went off peacefully, fruitfully”....