Chennai: The Income Tax department Friday raided 50 premises of Tamil Nadu Health Minister C Vijayabaskar and his associates and seized cash worth about Rs 5.5 crore and incriminating documents, some of them having reference to the RK Nagar by poll next week. The IT department is now sending a report of its findings to the Election Commission.
The ruling AIADMK faction reacted calling the raids ‘harassment’ and a bid to countermand the by poll. The seat fell vacant following the death of J Jayalalithaa. I-T officials said the seized documents had references to alleged payouts related to the by-election.
Rs 3 crore was allegedly seized from a personal secretary to the minister, about Rs 1.1 crore from a suspected conduit, a similar amount from a pharmaceutical company and about Rs 25 lakh was found in envelopes, a senior official told PTI.
The searches were expected to continue. After the raids, officials are recording the statements of the relevant people found involved, or witnesses, in the case. Vijayabaskar is under the scanner for over a year and his name cropped up during investigations related to illegal gutka manufacturer and sand mining baron Sekar Reddy, officials said.
His name also later figured in “inputs” related to alleged payoff to voters in the by poll-bound constituency, they said, adding these necessitated the searches.
The searches were carried out by over 150 I-T sleuths at Chennai, Pudukottai, Tiruchirappalli, Namakkal, Devakottai, and Manapparai. Central security personnel provided security.
The raids that began at 6 AM were also conducted at the premises of AISMK party chief and ally of AIADMK Amma faction Sarath Kumar, Vice Chancellor of state-run Dr MGR Medical University Dr S Geethalakshmi, former AIADMK MP Chitlapakkam Rajendran and at the MLA hostel complex here.
The raid at the premises of the VC was over allegations related to “some transfers,” and at the former MP was over the by poll vis-a-vis tax evasion, officials said.
The IT officials, without giving details, said searches had also been conducted against an MLA in the legislators complex here and Sarath Kumar over suspected tax evasion.
“They have been checking everywhere… Harassment is going on and they were not even allowing my children to go to school,” Bhaskaran said supporting his claim of harassment.
With inputs from agencies