The income tax department on 3 March raided the houses and offices of filmmakers Anurag Kashyap, Vikas Bahl, actor Taapsee Pannu, and other film and media personalities, triggering allegations from Opposition parties that the action was politically motivated to muzzle dissent. However, I-T officials have made it clear that the searches were part of a tax evasion probe against Phantom Films, launched by Kashyap, Bahl, director Vikramaditya Motwane and producer Madhu Mantena but shut down later after a #MeToo allegation against Bahl.
I-T department sources today said that the celebs’ income tax returns do not match with their real income. The raids were a part of the department’s investigation involving supressed incomes from films and other sources.
The allegedly shady company opened in 2011 but shut in 2018. In March 2015, Reliance Entertainment procured 50% of the stakes in the company. The I-T department raided Mantena’s premises among other places associated with the said filmmakers yesterday.
The I-T department raided the houses and official premises of Kashyap and Pannu in Versova, Goregaon and Andheri. The I-T sleuths searched Pannu’s PR company KRI Entertainment too.
Maharashtra’s ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi criticised the raids and said it was an attempt to suppress the voices of people speaking against the central government. While the opposition links the raids to Kashyap’s and Pannu’s anti-BJP government stand, the said personalities often deride even Hindu belief systems in their film productions, roles as well as tweets.
After hours of grilling by the I-T department yesterday, the income tax sleuths are questioning Taapsee Pannu, Anurag Kashyap, Madhu Mantena and Vikas Bahl today as well.
IT officials went through volumes of documents and electronic data associated with Anurag Kashyap, Taapsee Pannu, Madhu Mantena and Vikas Bahl yesterday. The officials seized laptops and documents for evaluation. The IT team left Anurag Kashyap’s residence after almost 11 hours of investigation.
The department summoned the celebrities through a notice after the searches were concluded. Kashyap and Pannu were questioned the entire night.
Why Taapsee, Anurag are under I-T department’s scanner
• The raids began at 8 am and continued late into the evening.
• They were carried out at least 30 places in Mumbai and Pune, and included the premises of Reliance Entertainment executive Shibhashish Sarkar, talent agency Exceed Entertainment executive Afsar Zaidi and the now-dissolved production company, Phantom Films.
• Kashyap and Pannu were questioned in Pune.
• Separate I-T teams raided the houses and official premises of Kashyap and Pannu in Versova, Goregaon and Andheri.
• Pannu’s PR company KRI Entertainment was also searched.
• Officials said the searches were part of a tax evasion probe against Phantom Films, started by Kashyap, Bahl, director Vikramaditya Motwane and producer Madhu Mantena.
• The company opened in 2011 but shut in 2018 after sexual harassment allegations against Bahl.
• In March 2015, Reliance Entertainment procured a 50% stake in the company. Mantena’s premises were also raided.
Phantom Films’ co-founder Mantena is linked to talent management firm KWAN, which, in turn, allegedly has income from beyond its declared sources. These are, I-T department sources said, incomes from the different companies the founders of Phantom Films are linked to, which include Anil Ambani’s Reliance Entertainment.
Once Phantom Films no longer existed, Kashyap launched a new production company called Good Bad Films while Motwane launched Andolan Films.
I-T dept probes Anil Ambani’s associate too
Hardly being discussed amid the noise over the raids in locations of Taapsee and Anurag: Anil Ambani’s Reliance Entertainment was raided too. The I-T department searched Reliance Entertainment group CEO Shibhashish Sarkar’s premises among over 30 locations in Mumbai and Pune.
I-T department sources said they were probing the business transactions of films made under the banner of Phantom Films.
officials are keeping a back-up of every digital evidence they found during the searches. The sources revealed that questioning of individuals is taking place based on the evidence that they already have.