Income tax officials wrap up raids at properties of Sasikala, relatives

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Chennai: The income tax (I-T) department on Monday wrapped up five days of raids at properties belonging to sidelined All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) leader V.K. Sasikala and her family.

The jailed leader’s nephew Vivek Jayaraman, who is the managing director of Jaya TV, was taken to the income tax office for questioning on Monday evening. He also controls Jazz Cinemas Pvt. Ltd.

The tax raids under ‘Operation Clean Money’ targeted shell firms belonging to 10 groups, including those run by members of Sasikala’s family and associates.

While the searches had come to an end at most of the places by Sunday, they continued at about five places on Monday, including the Jaya TV office and Jayaraman’s home.

The action began on Thursday, with 1,800 tax officials raiding 187 locations in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Puducherry and Delhi.

Sasikala’s brother V. Dhivakaran, who runs a women’s college near Mannargudi town, AIADMK’s Karnataka state secretary V. Pugazhendhi and K. S. Sivakumar, who is Sasikala’s relative and was the personal physician of former chief minister the late J. Jayalalaithaa, are the others who were questioned by I-T officials on Monday.

Earlier, Sasikala’s nephew T.T.V. Dhinakaran, also a sidelined leader of the ruling party, alleged, “The I-T raids are a clear signal of political vendetta. The central government is behind these raids.”

Referring to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at the centre, he said, “I will not allow the party that is behind these raids to get established in Tamil Nadu.”

On Sunday, Union minister Pon Radhakrishnan rejected the charges that the I-T department was being used to target people for political reasons.

“The income tax department is an autonomous body. We cannot question them if they take any action against any person. I-T raids are taking place in other states. There is no truth in the allegation that the income tax department is biased,” he said.

Following the factional divide in the AIADMK, Jaya TV has been critical of the government led by chief minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami and deputy chief minister O. Panneerselvam.

In August, after the merger of the Palaniswami and Panneerselvam factions of the party, the AIADMK had passed a resolution to retrieve the properties of Jaya TV and Namadhu MGR, the party’s mouthpiece.

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