THE INCOME Tax department on Wednesday carried out raids at the residence and office of Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary P Rama Mohana Rao, the residence of his son Vivek in the city, and the latter’s in-laws’ house in Chittoor in Andhra Pradesh.
Tax officials said Rs 30 lakh in new Rs 2,000 notes, five kilograms of gold and documents with details of undisclosed assets worth about Rs 5 crore were recovered during the raids carried out at 11 places.
WATCH VIDEO | Income Tax Department Raids Chennai Residence Of Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary Rammohan Rao
The raids began at 5:30 am, when a team of I-T officials landed at Rao’s residence in Anna Nagar. In order to keep the operation secret, the I-T department sought the assistance of paramilitary forces instead of calling the state police personnel.
Raids were also carried out at the houses of Rao’s son in Thiruvanmiyur and daughter in Manapakkam, near the Chennai international airport. At around 2:30 pm, I-T sleuths reached Rao’s office at the State Secretariat where they carried out searches for five hours, till about 7:30 pm.
The other raids went on till night.
A large part of the cash and gold seized were recovered from Vivek’s house and his in-laws’ residence in Chittoor. Sources said multiple cellphones, SIM cards and several documents were seized from Rao’s office.
A senior I-T official told The Indian Express that the raids were linked to the seizure of Rs 132 crore cash (including Rs 34 crore in new notes) and 177 kg gold from mining baron Sekhar Reddy earlier this month. “Documents seized from Reddy’s premises were the major evidence, as they had details linked to Rao. It was a matter of ascertaining locations before launching the raid,” he said.
“Reddy had direct access to both Rao and a senior politician of the ruling party. We couldn’t raid the politician as we don’t have enough evidence to link him to the illegal transactions,” said another senior official.
I-T officials said Reddy was in regular touch with Rao and the politician’s office.
Meanwhile, a day after he was summoned for questioning, Reddy was arrested by the CBI on Wednesday. The CBI has joined the I-T probe into the source of new currency notes.
Officials said the CBI has filed an FIR against Reddy, his relative K Srinivasulu, and Premkumar, an agent who allegedly exchanged old notes for gold bars.
I-T sources said both Reddy and Rao would be booked under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
The CBI has also launched a parallel inquiry into RBI-Chennai and two leading private banks, which are suspected to have helped Reddy to exchange notes in the first two weeks after demonetisation was announced on November 8.
Meanwhile, Opposition parties have demanded Rao’s immediate dismissal. Stating that the raids were a disgrace for the state, DMK leader M K Stalin said Rao should resign immediately. He also demanded a statement from Chief Minister O Panneerselvam on the issue.
CPI(M) state secretary G R Ramakrishnan demanded Rao’s dismissal and sought a high-level probe against him. PMK founder S Ramadoss also sought legal action against Rao.
However, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee attributed political motive behind the raid. “Earlier the principal secretary of @ArvindKejriwal was raided and harassed. Now I read TN chief secretary also raided… Why don’t they raid Amit Shah and others who are collecting money,” she said in a series of tweets.
Some AAP cadres also protested outside Rao’s residence, alleging that the raids were part of the Centre’s bid to appoint a Chief Minister of their choice.